Sunday, January 23, 2011

Warm dinner on a cold winter night

Bill created a delightful French Country Cassoulet to ease the chill on a January evening in Maine.  "Cassoulet" is a fighting word in the southwest of France.  Each housewife has her recipe, her method, which is the right and only way."  This from the Great Women Chefs of France cook book where Bill spent some of his research for his perfect Cassoulet.
This is the list of ingredients:
2 pounds Great Northern white beans, dried
1 teaspoon of thyme
3 bay leaves
2 onions
2 strips smoked bacon
1 whole head of garlic
3-4 carrots
4 garlic sausages
4 fresh pheasant breast
6 legs of duck
4 country style pork ribs
1/4 cup goose fat
6 cups duck stock
4 cups fresh bread crumbs

 He started by soaking the Great Northern white beans overnight, 6-8 hours.  Throw out the water and put the beans in a large pot and cover with duck stock. Add Thyme, bay leaf, bacon, whole garlic sausages, chopped garlic and  quartered onions.  Set over low heat simmering until beans are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.  This is only the first part of the cassoulet.  Now to the meats.
Separate the duck legs and thighs trimming excess fat and cut pork into 2" chunks. Season with salt and pepper and roast at 450 for 45 minutes until browned.
 Remove large pieces of onion from bean mixture, discard.  Remove and cut into small pieces, whole garlic sausages and bacon.  Add to the meat roasting pan with other meats layering bean mixture and diced raw carrots covering with the  remaining liquid.

Add raw skinned pheasant breast cut into small pieces to the top of the pan and cover with foil.  Bake at 325 until it simmers about 1/2 hour.

Reduce oven temperature to 300 and cover with fresh bread crumbs.  Drizzle goose fat over the top and bake uncovered for 2 - 3 hours until brown and bubbly.

Serve with your favorite red wine, crusty french bread, spinach salad and 8-10 hungry friends.

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