I had been looking forward to Cassoulet since day one. A classic of elaborate preparation. I can say I’ve done it, and I’ve learnt a technique or two, but I have no intention of coming back. I was so over it by the end. You are just going to have to excuse my French when I describe this ordeal as an epic clusterfuck. Just reliving it through pictures and my scrawled notes makes me feel ill. Uurghh.. *shiver*

First, the duck confit as previously described. This part of it was a success. I am astonished I cooked duck, kept it in fat in the fridge for several weeks, before submitting it to multiple recookings ..and lived.

Given that after much judiciary I have whittled down to 10 or 11 photos, and with the duck confit already complete, the following statement is given a little lightly:

“This is a great, not very difficult dish to make, and it doesn’t take much time-if you spread the work over three days: a few easy, fairly uninvolved small tasks per day.”

The difficulty and time would be greatly reduced with access to an industrial standard oven, fridge and working area.

After duck confit the second task was soaking 1.1kg of beans. That is a big old bowl of beans. Too much beans! Next came cooking the beans, pork rind, belly, and some other stuff. A pretty good way to get the beans tender and tasty and create some hearty bean-juice.

Then melting, followed by browning the duck. I had a nibble and it was amazing. Note that sizzling the duck isn’t specified in this recipe, but appears to be a fairly common divergence amongst others who have documented this nightmare – giving the duck a good colour and texture. My food-safety concerns were already grave but I pushed forward.

Can you think of anything more nasty and evil than the following:
Sizzle pork sausages in duck fat then set aside. Now sauté the previously boiled pork rind plus fresh onions and garlic in the duck/sausage fat and blend. *shudder*

Line the dish with pork rind – pretty much as rotten as it looks and sounds, however does prove effective at stopping anything sticking or burning. Layer the soss, onion-pork puree, belly, duck, beans and bean-juice in there, and presto! A big mucky pot of slop.

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Cook it. Cool it. Refrigerate. spend 2 days unable to face it. Cook again, eat.

By this stage I was four days and elbow deep in pork and duck fat and didnt want to have anything to do with it any more. I had stepped waaay past my own perceptions of food safety boundaries. I fully informed Rosabel of this but she got amongst it and came back for seconds. I enjoyed the duck, but couldn’t really relish the rest. How this panned out had diverged wildly from my expectations. This one goes into the list of ‘if presented with the choice at a restaurant I will take it and reassess then’, but for now just happy to say I’ve done it.

To add insult to injury, WordPress gave me one of those horrible headaches you can only get from literally hours spent battling a WYSIWYG vs HTML content management system that does whatever it wants when you are trying to lay out photos in a meaningful fashion. I know the previous statement means little to most of you, but suffice to say the web can be a real pain sometimes, and that is why I’ve gone for the slideshow in this post.

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