I thought French cooking was difficult, but with the right ingredients we achieved an authentic tasting cassoulet without any hassle.
Right or wrong, I think the success of the cassoulet depends two things. The confit duck and the beans. Admittedly there aren't too many other ingredients in a cassoulet.
For the confit duck we used Succes Gourmand tinned duck confit. At £10 for the tin it seemed like a bargain as it contained 4 pieces - which turned out to be 5 when we opened the tin! Using tinned makes life a lot easier than having to make your own confit duck, and means you get a lot of the all important duck fat. Cassoulet starts with a generous portion of duck fat.
This recipe cooked a cassoulet that fed the two of us very well. You'll need:
2 pieces confit duck
2 handfuls or dried cannellini beans, soaked overnight (it might seem like a pain to use dried beans which need soaking, but the taste is much better than tinned)
1 chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic,chopped
2 sausages - use what you like, straight pork, Lincolnshire or Cumberland will work fine
Pork - you could use 4 rashers of bacon, but we used some pre-cooked ham hock, about 170g
Herbs - we used dried bay, thyme and sage.
Put the oven onto 180c, and on the hob melt a generous amount duck fat in a big pan that can go in the oven, or a casserole. Add the chopped onion and garlic and soften over a medium heat, you don't want them to brown.
When the onions and garlic are soft add the soaked beans and herbs, cover with water and bring to the boil Boil for 10 minutes or so, skim off any scum. After 10 minutes put the pan in the oven for an hour.
Just before the hour is up melt some more duck fat and brown your sausages. Fry the bacon as well, if that's what you're using.
Remove the pan from the oven. Add the sausage, bacon or ham and the confit duck. Put the pan back in the oven for another 45 minutes or so. You want the beans soft and you might get a golden crust as well.
I thought cassoulet was going to be a lot harder than this. The hardest part is probably getting hold of duck confit, but you can buy that from Amazon! I think this is going to be one of those dishes that we end up cooking again and again.