Confit Duck Cassoulet

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September 29, 2016

In the past I’ve been a little snooty about the duck confit and opted for a bit of lamb. But now that we know it isn’t going to kill us, I have to admit that it does bring a certain unctuosity to the party so it’s quack quack all round. Ham hock isn’t traditional either but as the excellent Felicity Cloake pointed out in The Guardian, it replaces both the cured meat and pigs skin so it’s oink oink there too.

  • Cook: 4 hrs
  • Yields: 6-8 Servings


800g haricot beans, soaked in cold water overnight

1 onion, peeled

1 head of garlic, unpeeled, plus 4 cloves

2 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

1 small, unsmoked ham hock, skin on

2 confit duck legs and their fat

500g boneless pork belly or lamb breast, cubed

300g Riverford French Country sausages

2 tbsp tomato puree

120g breadcrumbs

2 tbps good pokey olive oil


1Simmer the ham hock in plenty of water for two hours. Throw away the water.

2Drain the beans well and put them in a large, ovenproof casserole dish. Pour in water until it comes about 3cm above the top of the beans, then add the onion, whole head of garlic, herbs and ham hock. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for about two hours, until just tender, but not falling apart.

3Meanwhile, fry the duck, pork belly or lamb breast, and sausages separately in plenty of duck fat until crisp and golden. When cool, cut the sausages into large chunks and strip the meat from the duck in large pieces.

4Remove the onion, herbs and ham hock. Bin the first two and srip the meat from the ham hock. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins and mash to a paste with four tablespoons of duck fat and the fresh garlic cloves. Stir in the tomato puree.

5Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas mark one.

6Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Grease the bottom of the casserole with a little of the duck fat mix, then tip in the beans, the rest of the duck fat and the pieces of meat. Mix well and top with just enough liquid to cover – you probably won't need to add any seasoning, as both the ham and the confit will be quite salty.

7Sprinkle a layer of breadcrumbs over the top and bake for about two hours, keeping an eye on it. Once a crust has formed, stir this back into the cassoulet, and top with some more breadcrumbs. You should do this about three times. Leave until the crust has just begun to char and take out of the oven. Rest for twenty minutes.

8Drizzle with a pokey olive oil, and leave to cool slightly before serving with a sharply dressed green salad.