A traditional southern French cassoulet is essentially a slow cooked rustic dish containing a variation of pork, duck or goose confit, Toulouse sausage, haricot or cannellini beans. All the ingredients are cooked together for hours, resulting in a hearty dish, which however comforting can feel a little rich and heavy.
This version has all the comfort of a good cassoulet, but with fresh flavours to cut through the richness and lighten the dish. It uses our exceptional handmade Toulouse sausages and Valette duck confit as a nod to tradition, but would be just as good made with the sausages alone. As is often the way, the trick to getting the best out of each of these ingredients is to cook them separately so they retain their unique flavour.
40 minutes plus overnight soaking
3 hours +
3 hours, 40 minutes
- 300g Dried Haricot or Cannellini Beans - soaked overnight in cold water
- 1 whole Garlic Bulb, Unpeeled
- 3 Sprigs of Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Onion, Peeled and Halved
- 1 Large Carrot, Topped and Tailed, Unpeeled and Cut in Half
- 1 Celery Stick, Cut into 3 Pieces
- 1 Litre Fresh Chicken Stock (with no added salt)
- 2 Toulouse Sausages (3 if not using duck, see above)
- 3-4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 2 Escallion Shallots, Peeled and Finely Chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled and Finely Chopped
- 2 Confit Duck Legs
- 4 Medium Tomatoes, Deseeded and Diced
- Freshly Ground Black Pepper and Fleur de Sel
- 30g Unsalted Butter (if not using leftover Duck Fat)
- 2 Escallion Shallots , Peeled and Finely Chopped
- 1 Garlic Clove, Peeled and Crushed.
- Zest of Two Lemons
- 25g ‘Nduja, crumbled
- 50g Fresh Breadcrumbs
- Small Bunch of Flatlet Parsley, Finely Chopped
Drain the beans, rinse in cold water and tip into a large saucepan with a lid. Add the whole garlic bulb, thyme, bay leaves, onion, carrot and celery. Add the chicken stock and place over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, then immediately reduce heat to a low simmer and cover with a lid. The beans will take anywhere from 45 minutes to one and a half hours to soften, but should still retain a little bite and not be falling apart. Remove from the heat and strain the cooking liquid through a sieve in to a large jug. Discard the thyme, bay, garlic, onion, celery and carrot.
While the beans are cooking preheat the oven to 180/160C fan. Place the sausages in an oven tin, drizzle with olive oil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove the sausages from the oven. Place a medium size frying pan over a medium heat, add a little more olive oil and fry the sausages for a few minutes to colour the skins on all sides. Transfer the sausages to a plate to cool, but reserve the frying pan.
Reduce oven temperature to 160/140C fan. Using the same frying pan, add a little more oil and place over a low heat. Add the onions and garlic and fry gently until soft and caramelised. Add the drained beans to the pan and stir to combine. Tip the the bean mixture into a casserole dish and pour in enough of the reserved bean cooking liquid to just cover the beans (keep any leftover liquid to top up if necessary). Place in the oven for 1.30 - 2 hours, stirring every half an hour, until the beans are soft and have absorbed most of the liquid.
Meanwhile slice the cooled sausages on a slight diagonal. Heat the reserved pan on a medium heat. Add a drizzle of olive oil and gently fry the sausage slices for a minute or so to colour on each side. Transfer to a plate and reserve the pan.
Place the reserved frying pan over a medium heat and add the confit duck legs. Fry gently for 5 minutes or until warmed through. Remove the skin and discard. Pull the meat off the bone and set aside. Reserve the pan.
To make the nduja crumb. Place the pan back on a low heat, there should be enough residual duck fat, but if not add some butter. Add the shallots and garlic and fry gently for 10 minutes or so, until soft and caramelised. Increase the heat to medium, add the crumbled nduja, lemons zest, breadcrumbs and half the parsley and stir to combine. Fry gently for a minute to crisp up the breadcrumbs taking care not to burn them, remove from the heat and set aside.
Remove the beans from the oven, stir in the sausage and duck pieces and the tomatoes and return to the oven for 5 minutes to warm through.
Divide the cassoulet between four bowls, sprinkle over the nduja crumb and parsley and serve immediately.