Monday, May 5, 2008

Majestic Duck Leg: My First Cassoulet

I tried a Duck Confit about three weeks or more ago, and decided "WTF?" and started a Cassoulet today. I think encountering Martha Stewart's version in a magazine at the Vets Center was the final straw. It's not that easy to find a recipe; there appear to be roughly as many as there are cooks who make it; the main traditions are associated with three towns in SW France: Toulouse, Carcassone, and Castelnaudary. All consist of white beans cooked with meats: pork, preserved Goose (Carcassone) or Duck (Castelnaudary), and Mutton (Toulouse and Carcassone). Castelnaudary has the Cassole, the earthenware pot it's traditionally made in, from which the name of the dish comes (in Occitan). Some speculate that the pots of beans were made while bread was being baked in the village oven, then placed in the oven as their loaves came out, to cook in the residual heat.

I am grateful for the Internet, the luscious Goddess who passes along traditions I may, and do, connect, in a belated Beltane celebration, for such a delicious grateful attention to beans, broth, and meat over the centuries. After going over a number of recipes, I felt I understood the base: Baked beans with meat: essentials including beans, meats, garlic, and tomato. I do thank my brothers and sisters at the Polish butcher's: servers and customers alike, for revealing themselves through their food.

The stock in which the beans are cooked before being baked is important; I used the Ham butt with Rind, carrot and an onion studded with whole cloves, 1/4 c. tomato sauce, and a bouquet garni of Leek, Thyme, Bay Leaf, and Lovage (celery taste; I grow it) in cheesecloth. I went to the Cathedral Art Show--I missed the Eucharists today--then, coming back around 1:30, cooked the beans for a bit, then went back for Choral Evensong and a Concert of Vaughan Williams's Five Mystical Songs on the Herbert texts which was wonderful, finished the beans and put things together for a slow oven roast in a cast iron Dutch Oven: ham butt and rind; great sausage and hams and veal! And WP's (Whole Paycheck's) version of Andouille, which aint that bad, I hope.

I sampled it before going to bed: late; I believe it lives up to expectations, and look forward to the next few days of seconds.


Fran said...

It sounds decadent and delightful!!

johnieb said...

Thank you; I think that's one of the things I must have been going for.

Unknown said...

And here I am reading this and eating a Dr. McDougall's Miso Noodle Soup cup and pretending it's that luscious sounding stew you made!

You do write the best food posts!

johnieb said...

And here I got back to mah danged ole blog 'cause I was gonna e-mail ya from my gmail; see ya in a minute.

What wuz yer eddres, again?

Anonymous said...

I remember my first cassoulet. It was an an inn near St. Antonin. One of the best days ever! Thanks for prompting the memory.