WINTER SURVIVAL

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CASSOULET
(8 servings; adapted from a recipe by Julia Child)

for the beans:
2 lbs dry Great Northern white beans
1 lb salt pork, both fat and lean
1 large herb bouquet in a cheesecloth
(8 sprigs each of parsley and thyme, 4 garlic cloves 2 bay leaves)
kosher salt to taste

for the cassoulet:
1 lamb shank (with bone)
2 lbs lamb shoulder chunks (with bone)
1 lb Berkshire pork cheeks (optional)
1 lb garlic pork sausage
4 duck legs confit
rendered duck fat
2 large onions, diced
5 large garlic cloves, minced
5 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups beef stock
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 cups of homemade breadcrumbs

Beans: Pick over the beans to remove any debris. Wash and drain them. Place them in a large pot with a gallon of water, cover, and bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Let sit for an hour. Meanwhile prepare the salt pork by slicing it 1/2 inch thick and simmering in 3 quarts of water for 15 minutes. Drain and set aside. When the beans are done soaking, bring them to a simmer and add the salt pork. Cover partially and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours (ensure the beans remain submerged in water) until the beans are just tender.

Meat: Next brown the meat. Heat the duck fat in a large pot until smoking, then add the lamb, browning all sides thoroughly. Remove the lamb and add the onions. When the onions are browned, return the lamb and add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, wine, and enough stock to cover the lamb. Simmer for about an 1 1/2 hours until the lamb is tender. Adjust the seasoning and remove the bones. Set the remaining mixture aside. Next brown the pork cheeks, sausage, and duck legs in a similar manner.

Assembly: Use a slotted spoon to layer the bottom of a large casserole dish with a third of the beans. Cover with a layer of lamb, pork, and duck. Repeat with beans, then with meat, etc. The top layer should be beans. Ladle the lamb cooking liquid (supplemented with bean liquid) so that the liquid reaches the top layer. Sprinkle the bread crumbs over the top. Place the casserole dish into a 325 degree oven for an hour or more until the cassoulet is bubbling. Halfway through, break the crust that has formed, allowing the liquid to spread. Increase the heat to 350 and after 15 minutes, break the crust once more to release liquids. Once the crust has formed for a third time, the cassoulet is ready to serve. Sprinkle with parsley.

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