Cassoulet à la chez
(courtesy of Mark Estee, chef/owner, chez louie in Reno’s Nevada Museum of Art, Liberty Wine Exchange in Reno, and The Union in Carson City. Serves 4)
4 chicken legs
4 cups duck fat
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
8 juniper berries
1 bunch fresh sage
Prepared cannellini beans (recipe below)
4 sausage links (preferably from Liberty Wine Exchange)
8 ounces slab bacon (preferably from Liberty Wine Exchange)
Bread crumbs and duck fat
For confit, start process 48 hours before assembling dish. Score top of chicken legs so meat can pull away from bone. Combine kosher salt, juniper berries, and sage for a rub and evenly coat chicken legs. Cover and place in refrigerator 24 hours.
The next day, gently remove spice rub from chicken legs and pat dry. Heat duck fat to 180 degrees F in braising pan. Place chicken legs in duck fat and cover. Cook in oven at 200 degrees F for 5 hours. Remove from oven and let legs rest in duck fat in refrigerator.
Brown sausage and bacon in casserole pan. Remove confit chicken legs from fat, scrape and set rendered duck fat aside, and add chicken legs to casserole pan. Add beans. Bring to a simmer, then adjust seasoning, being careful not to add too much salt. Check for pepper. Add any remaining fond or jus from the bottom of the confit pan. Let simmer 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix bread crumbs and rendered duck fat. Sprinkle over meat and bean mixture and bake 15 minutes, until golden crust forms. Remove from oven and serve!
2 pounds dry cannellini beans
Water to cover
1 head garlic, cut in half
2 tablespoons salt
1 bouquet garni (instructions below)
½ bunch celery, cut into large pieces
1 onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, halved
1 smoked pork shank (preferably from Liberty Wine Exchange)
Soak beans in salted water 24 hours. Rinse beans and place in soup pot. Cover with water. Add remaining ingredients and simmer 60 to 90 minutes, until tender.
Remove garlic, bouquet garni, celery, onion, and carrot. Remove shank and pull meat, then add back to beans.
For bouquet garni Wrap fresh thyme, sage, and bay leaf in a bundle with twine to make a tight package that won’t come apart in the pot.