Prep/cook time: This takes a really long time to make, but it is worth it
2 cans cannellini beans, no salt added (organic if possible)
extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
2 white onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
1 pound pork shoulder; have your butcher cut into 1-inch cubes
½ pound pancetta; have your butcher dice into very small cubes
2 cups whole peeled canned tomatoes, pierced open and ever-so-slightly crushed, plus two-thirds of the juices from the can
2 bouquets garni
(These are tied bundles or sachets of dried herbs, usually thyme, bay leaf, parsley, basil, rosemary, tarragon, and chervil. They are available on Amazon if not at your local market.)
1 cup white wine (any kind will do, but pick something you like and enjoy the remainder while cooking)
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (Pacific organic free-range chicken broth
is the absolute best and makes a big difference in the outcome; in this case, it does not need to be low-sodium.)
1 cup water
4 confit duck legs (D’Artagnan makes the best outside of France.)
1 pound pork sausages (If you’re in New York, try to find one large Trois Petits Cochons “Saucisson à l’Ail” from Brooklyn, available in specialty markets. If you’re able to find it, cut off the tip of both ends and cut it in half; when you brown it in the pan, the casing will crackle and pop off, and you can discard it. If you can’t find Trois Petits Cochons, ask your butcher for pork sausage that will be good to brown, slice, and add to a stew. Have the casings left on.)
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees (Fahrenheit). Rinse the beans very thoroughly in a colander and set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven (a large cast-iron pot), and lightly brown the garlic, onions, and carrots for 10 minutes, stirring often so nothing gets too browned. Remove the vegetables and set aside. Add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil into the same pot, and brown the pork shoulder and pancetta for 8 minutes after adding more pepper.
Add the garlic, onions, carrots, tomatoes with most of their juices, and beans to the pot along with the bouquets garnis. Cook until the liquid thickens, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and reduce it by half, stirring often. Add the broth and bring to a boil, and then add the cup of water. Reduce heat to medium. Cook uncovered until liquid has thickened, which should be about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bouquets garnis and set the pot aside, away from the heat.
Meanwhile, sear the duck confit in another tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium-high heat for 8 minutes; then remove it from the heat and transfer to a plate. Brown the sausages in the duck fat for about 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and cut into ½-inch slices. Pull the duck meat off the bones and discard the fat and bones. Stir the duck confit and sausages into the cassoulet with all of the other ingredients.
Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and bake uncovered for one hour. Remove from the oven and let cool completely, stirring several times as it cools, and then put in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Pull the cassoulet out of the oven and gently stir. Put it back into the oven, raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees, and cook the cassoulet until the top is bubbly and slightly browned, which should be about 5 or 6 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then serve. Though it’s not traditional, I think it’s great served with a spinach salad.