Monday, January 15, 2018

Whole Duck Cassoulet a la Bittman #KitchenMatrixCookingProject

I've made cassoulet before. Well, I've used shortcuts to make cassoulet before - using canned beans and already made duck confit. Inspired by this week's Kitchen Matrix Cooking Project - read more about this here - I decided that I was going to conquer this dish once and for all. 

That and this month's French Winophiles event suggested cassoulet in honor of 'National Cassoulet Day' on January 9th. So, you can read more about the Languedoc wines I poured with my cassoulet.

Here are the other bloggers who decided to join me in making Bittman's Whole Duck Cassoulet...or, at least, their version of it. This project is pretty fast and loose; bloggers can adapt as they see fit.

Whole Duck Cassoulet a la Bittman
slightly adapted, serves 6 to 8

But, for this cassoulet, I decided I was all in. I was determined to start with a whole duck, break it down, confit the breast and legs, and make a stock with the rest of it. I did completely forget the slab bacon, but - really - there was so much meat in this dish, we didn't miss it. I also skipped the cloves, but added juniper berries to my stock. This was ridiculously time-consuming, but it was well-worth the effort. And I think my dinner guests agreed.


Duck Stock and Confit makes 8 C stock + confit of 2 legs and 2 breasts
  • 1 whole duck
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 to 3 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 4 to 5 celery ribs, cut into chunks
  • 2 green onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 whole juniper berries
  • parsley sprigs
  • black pepper
  • duck fat, as needed
  • olive oil, as needed
  • 10 C water

Whole Duck Cassoulet
  •  4 C dried cannellini beans
  • small bunch parsley, chopped, approximately 1 C
  • 10 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound lamb, cubed
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and diced, approximately 2 C
  • 1 C diced celery
  • duck confit (2 legs + 2 breasts)
  • 3 C duck stock + more if needed
  • 2 C tomato sauce
  • 3 T minced garlic
  • 4 links garlicky sausage, cut into thick coins
  • duck fat, as needed
  • 2 C bread crumbs


Duck Stock and Confit 
Set the whole duck on the cutting board, breast-side up. Use a knife to cut along one side of the breastbone. Follow the curve with your knife and pull the meat back as you go. You'll end up with one duck breast. Repeat on the other side. Now you have two breasts. Once you've removed the breasts, the legs are easy to see. Remove the thigh and drumstick, cutting through the joint that attaches the leg to the body. Remove as much skin and fat as you can from the duck and place that in a large saucepan. Over medium heat, render as much duck fat at you can. I got about 1 C from mine and added 2 C of pre-rendered duck fat to do the confit.

Lightly score the skin of the breast in a diamond pattern. Sprinkle with salt and reserve. Toss the duck legs with garlic, thyme, shallots, and salt. Refrigerate and marinate overnight.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.  Place your duck breasts, legs, and garlic in a roasting pan. Add the duck fat (I used 3 C) and olive oil to the pan until the meat is almost completely submerged. Cook in the oven for at least 90 minutes.

For the stock, place the duck carcass, celery, carrots, green onions, juniper, bay leaves, and parsley sprigs in a large stock pot. Pour in 10 C water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Cook for at least 2 hours, skimming any foam that forms on the top. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if needed.

Whole Duck Cassoulet
In a large pot, place the beans. Cover them with water by about 3 inches. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Drain the liquid out and replace the water, covering the soaked beans, again, by about 3" water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook until the beans are tender, approximately 90 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a Dutch oven, or other heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, saute onions and celery in 1 to 2 T duck fat. Cook until the onions soften, approximately 5 minutes. Add in the lamb and brown on all sides. Stir in the sausages. Pour in 2 C duck stock and bring to a boil. cover and place pot in the oven. Braise to 90 minutes. In the meantime, slice the duck breasts into thick slices and bring the legs to room temperature.

After 90 minutes remove the pot from the oven. Pour in the tomato sauce and ladle in the beans. Stir in the minced garlic. Nestle the duck legs, breast slices, and bay leaves into the beans. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves and 1/2 C chopped parsley. Pour in the remaining stock and bring to a boil. Cover and return to the oven for another 90 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and sprinkle in the remaining parsley. Cover the top with breadcrumbs. Cover and return to the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the cover and bake for a final 15 to 20 minutes. The top should be dried and a crisp crust covering the entire dish.

Serve with sliced bread and nice red wine.


  1. I think this is the perfect recipe for those long lazy weekends when there is nothing on the calendar...that happens once or twice a year in this household LOL>

  2. This is definitely one I'm going to have to add to my schedule. I've never made cassoulet, and would love to try this. My husband loves duck.


Share Buttons