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Hearty Winter Stew (The French Way) – Daring Cooks Jan 2011


In this post I’m participating in (of course) The Daring Kitchen, and also in Social Parade.

Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.

Oh. My. Goodness. This challenge? Was challenging. I mean that in the best possible way too. At first it was a little overwhelming to even read the recipe. Me, who makes all kinds of crazy meals and desserts, I was totally intimidated by the concept of a stew that takes 3 days to make. That’s not even days of prep either. It’s involving!

Anyhoo, I’ll start with the recipe itself and then attack you will three days worth of French stew making photos, which ended up being about eleventy billion.

There were a whole lot of substitutions allowed thankfully! Some items I wanted but couldn’t get (like duck for some reason) and other items I just super didn’t want to get (like duck fat).

Cassoulet via The Daring Kitchen

5 cups dried Great Northern beans
2 huge pork hocks (original recipe calls for pork belly)
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 pound bacon (original recipe calls for pork rind)
1 bouquet garni (tie together two sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme and one bay leaf)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Becel/butter (original recipe calls for duck fat)
12 small pork sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
8 confit chicken legs (original recipe calls for duck legs)

First, you’ll need to make the confit.

Chicken Confit

4 whole chicken legs (leg and thigh)
sea salt, for the overnight (at least 6-8 hours) dry rub
2 cups Becel/butter
a healthy pinch or grind of black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove

Making the confit is pretty easy. The first day all you do is rub down the chicken legs with a generous amount of sea salt and pop them in the fridge overnight.


One the second day, preheat your oven to 375, melt the butter in a saucepan. Then season the chicken legs with black pepper and put them in a casserole dish. Add the thyme, rosemary and garlic with the chicken legs and pour the melted butter over them. Cover the dish with aluminum foil and cook for about an hour. Till the bone easily slips out.


Now let it cool, as is, and then pop it in the fridge overnight.

Day one of the actual Cassoulet is painfully simple. Just soak your beans.

Day two, you drain the beans, and put them in a large pot. The quartered onion, herb bouquet and pork hocks all go in with this too. Cover with water and simmer for 1/2 hour. Season with salt and pepper and then simmer for another 1/2 hour.


Let this cool for about 20 minutes and toss the onion and herbs. Take out the pork hocks and take off the meat. Strain the beans and keep the water.

Now, saute the sausages in the butter till they’re well browned. Then drain them on paper towels. Now, in the same pan, brown the onions, garlic and meat.


Once that’s browned….ok follow me here because I had to read this again and again to be sure I was reading it right. There are even photos to go along with this that clearly illustrate what comes next. Ready?

So the meat from the pork hocks and the onions and garlic? You put that in the blender. Yeah, I know! You put it in the blender and make a really super gross looking goo out of it. My husband was in loooove with the smell of it browning and even had a little nibble of the meat and of course reacted with ‘What? The blender?!’


Why is this perfectly delicious snack pulverized? So it can be poured between each layer of this crazy stew, sillyhead!

But wait! It gets even better! Now, you line your dish with, wait for it…bacon. Yes, pork rind is listed in the original recipe but not only is bacon a suitable sub, it was used by one of the hosts this month!


All that’s left really is layering and cooking. This is what I did; beans, puree, sausages, puree, more beans, more puree, chicken confit, more puree and finally even more beans. Cover with the bean liquid before putting in the oven, but make sure you save a cup of the liquid in the fridge.


This is cooked for an hour at 350, then the temp is lowered to 250 for another hour. Then it’s cooled and put in the fridge overnight (notice a trend here).

Now the next day, cook it again at 350 for an hour. Then, break the crust that forms on the top and pour in the liquid you saved. Lower the temp to 250 like the day before, and cook for another 15 minutes.

Voila! Easy peasy, right? 😉

This month’s Daring Baker’s challenge seems about as easy! Wish me luck!

 Smart and Trendy Moms


Kitchen Miscy – Everything Else


6. January 24 – Chicken Pot Pies

5. January 17 – Chocolate Tart (for a happy husband)

4. January 16 -Miss America Chocolate Cupcakes

3. January 16 – Sugar Cookie Ganache Sandwiches

2. January 14 – Cassoulet (French Winter Stew)

1. January 8- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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