By Karen Jurgensen, adapted by Macon Luhning - Fall 2012 Issue
Recipe Detail Serves: 18 3 Days Prep Time, 4 Hours Cook Time
For Day 1:
Soak the beans overnight in a large stockpot.
For Day 2:
Drain the beans and cover with water again. Add the pork hock, garlic, bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns. Bring the water up to a simmer slowly. Skim any impurities. Cook for 20 to 40 minutes. When the beans are done, they will have a creamy texture but will still be intact. Pour the beans, their liquid, and the pork hock into an uncovered container and store overnight in the refrigerator.
Put the lamb, red wine, garlic, juniper berries, and bay leaves in a glass or stainless steel bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
In a glass dish or bowl, add the chicken, white wine, thyme, lavender buds, and bay leaf. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan over low heat. Toss with the bread crumbs, thyme, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Spread the bread crumbs on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes, or until golden. Refrigerate overnight.
For Day 3:
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Drain the beans, reserving the liquid and pork hock.
In a heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until the oil slides easily across the pan. Brown the sausages. Remove from heat and reserve.
Remove the lamb shanks from the marinade, discard the marinade, and season the shanks with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan over high heat, add a splash of oil and sear the outside of the shanks. Remove from heat and reserve.
Remove the chicken thighs from the marinade, discard the marinade, and season with salt and pepper. In a sauté pan over high heat, add a splash of oil and sear the thighs until brown. Remove from heat and reserve.
Melt 4 tablespoons of duck fat in the bottom of a large, deep roasting pan or cassoulet pan. Remove from heat and begin layering all ingredients into the pan, scattering the beans throughout: garlic, tomatoes, onion, lamb shanks, pork hocks, duck confit, chicken thighs, sausages, thyme, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and finally more beans. Make certain that all of the meats are covered with beans.
Pour the reserved bean liquid into the pan until it reaches just above the level of the cassoulet. Reserve the remaining bean liquid until the cassoulet is done. Dot the top of the cassoulet with the remaining duck fat.
Cover and bake for 1 hour, then uncover and top with the reserved bread crumbs. Push them just below the surface of the liquid but do not stir them in. The cassoulet should cook slowly. The fats will rise to the surface and form a crust with the crumbs. Be careful to keep the liquid level above the beans; you may have to add more reserved bean liquid. Every 45 minutes, crack the surface crust, sinking the crumbs under the fat. If the bread crumbs get too brown, cover the pan loosely with foil. The cassoulet should cook for about 4 hours.
Let rest for 20 minutes. Serve warm, with crusty French bread and a hearty red wine.