I got off to a good start, but things meandered off course very quickly.
I used flageolet beans and I remembered to soak them overnight. The beans soaked up a lot of water – they easily expanded to twice their original size.
In the morning I realized that I had forgotten to prepare the duck legs for the duck confit. So rather than curing overnight, the duck legs only cured for about four hours. They still had a good five hours on the stove, though. My home still smells like duck fat!
While I was making the duck confit, I started cooking the beans in the water and beef broth. I added the onions and bouquet garni but I hesitated. The recipe from Gourmet in December 2002 calls for tomato paste to be added to the beans while they are cooking. I had thought that you weren’t supposed to add any acid (e.g. tomatoes) before the beans were fully cooked through. So I didn’t add the tomato paste until much later… much, much later as it turns out, because the beans were still undercooked after two hours.
While the beans were still cooking (and the duck confit was still… confit-ing) I cooked up some bacon and pancetta, and I added that to the bean mixture. I prefer restaurants that serve duck confit on the top or to the side of the cassoulet, so I used a little duck fat in a skillet to crisp up the duck confit. At the same time, I should have been browning the garlic sausage. But I forgot about the sausage.
And because it was late, I didn’t even attempt the bread crumb topping, and I didn’t bake it. I was hungry! So in the end, I didn’t have cassoulet, I had fancy pork and beans. They tasted good but it was a far cry from Hamersley’s! I’ll have to give it another try.