Heirlooms

At one of our garden swaps, a neighbor brought dried heirloom beans to swap.  Dried beans have always intimidated me.  Several years ago, I attempted to make my own black beans from scratch, and ended up with a slightly burned bitter mess of blackness in my pot and beans that never got soft.  Yuck.  However, with some encouragement from my neighbor, and a bag of some magic heirloom beans, I decided to give the dried beans another try.   They were cassoulet beans, and of course, you MUST have duck confit with cassoulet.  Fortunately, there is a quaint butcher shop in DTSA that does all the work of duck confit for me.  So I picked up two of their pre-made duck legs confit, and headed home to make my cassoulet.  While this is a bit of an investment of time, I found it to be easy, and ultimately rewarding.  So should you have some magic beans, and a quaint butcher nearby, please give this a shot.  It’s worth the effort.

img_9206Garden Swap + ECB Cassoulet

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp ghee or butter
  • 2 ECB duck confit
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, dices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 c white wine
  • 2 c chicken broth
  • Prepared cassoulet beans (see below)
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a medium dutch oven or heavy pot over medium heat, cook the bacon until crispy.  Remove the bacon pieces and set aside.  Add ghee or butter to the bacon grease, and reheat duck, skin side down.  Once the skin is crispy, remove from the pan, and set aside in the warm oven.  Add the onion, carrots, and garlic to the grease.  Let the carrots, onions and garlic cook for 5 minutes to soften.  Add the zucchini, tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot and cook for another 2 minutes.  Then add the wine to deglaze the pan.  Next, add the chicken broth and drained prepared cassoulet beans.  Let the beans come to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 15-20 minutes, and adjust salt & pepper to your liking.  When ready to serve, stir in the bacon bits, and spoon into a bowl.  Top the bowl with the duck confit.

How to prepare dried cassoulet beans

  • 1 lb Cassoulet Beans, rinsed
  • 5 springs thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed

Using kitchen twine, tie the thyme, garlic and bay into a bundle.  In a heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven, pour the beans and enough water to cover by about 1.5-2 inches.  Add the herb bouquet.  DO NOT ADD SALT.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.  Continue to check that the water doesn’t evaporate and burn the beans.  After 2 hours, allow the beans to cool, and then drain and reserve for use.  At this point you can add salt for flavoring, but I would wait until you use them.

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