Servings: Serves 12
  • 1/2 pound fresh pork rind
  • 2 pounds dried white beans (Great Northern; or try half Great Northern, half dried flageolets), soaked overnight
  • 1 duckling (4 1/2 to 5 pounds) with neck and giblets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1 pound lamb bones (more or less)
  • 2 1/4 pounds lamb stew meat , in 1-inch cubes
  • 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder , in 1-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 or 2 Tbsp. olive oil , if needed
  • 1/3 cup rendered bacon fat
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 3 large carrots , peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups dry white vermouth
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 5 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
  • 9 large garlic cloves , peeled
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 pounds fresh garlic sausage or kielbasa
  • 1 pound salt pork
  • 4 cups unseasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 1 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley (flat-leaf)
Score the fat side of the pork rind, cover it with cold water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water again and repeat the process, this time simmering for 30 minutes. Reserve the pork rind and its second cooking water separately.

Preheat the oven to 450°.

Drain the beans and place them in an 8-quart ovenproof pot with a lid. Cover them with water by at least 3 inches and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook briskly, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans stand in the cooking liquid.

Cut the wing tips off the duck and set them aside, along with the neck, heart, and gizzard. (Save the liver for another use.) Pull all the fat out of the duck and season the cavity with salt and pepper. Put the duck in a small roasting pan. Put the lamb bones in a second small pan and roast, along with the duck, in the oven for 45 minutes. Drain the accumulated fat frequently. Remove from the oven after the cooking time. The duck should still be slightly underdone and the lamb bones should be well browned; reserve the lamb bones. Drain the juices from the duck cavity into a large bowl and reserve. Cool, cover and refrigerate the duck.

In a heavy skillet, brown the cubed lamb in olive oil in batches over medium heat, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Do not crowd the pan. Transfer the browned lamb to a large bowl and reserve.

Without cleaning the skillet, sauté the pork cubes and the reserved duck giblets, neck and wing tips in the same fashion, seasoning with salt, pepper, 1 teaspoon of the thyme and allspice. (You may need to add a tablespoon or two of olive oil if the skillet is particularly dry at this point.) Place the browned pork in the same bowl with the lamb. Drain and reserve the meat juices; cover and refrigerate the meat. Add the giblets and wing tips to the beans.

Do not clean the skillet. Melt the rendered bacon fat in the skillet over low heat and sauté the onions and carrots, stirring, until tender, about 20 minutes. Add to the pot with the beans.

Add the vermouth, along with the duck, lamb and pork juices, to the skillet. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat slightly and cook briskly, stirring, until the vermouth is slightly reduced and all browned cooking particles remaining in the skillet have dissolved. Pour the vermouth onto the beans.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Stir in the tomato paste, the pork rind cooking liquid, beef stock, remaining thyme, the bay leaves, and the reserved lamb bones. Chop 6 of the garlic cloves and add to the beans. Add additional water if necessary; the liquid should just cover the beans. Put the pork rind, fat side down, on top of the beans and cover the pot.

Bake on the center rack of the oven until the beans are tender, 2 to 2 1⁄2 hours. Remove and cool to room temperature, uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, prick the garlic sausage all over with a fork and simmer in a pan of water for 30 minutes. Drain and reserve.

Put the salt pork in a pan of cold water, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. Drain, cover with cold water and repeat, reserving the salt pork in its cooking water.

Remove the pot of beans from the refrigerator. Discard the lamb bones, bay leaves, duck neck and wing tips, and–if you can find them–the heart and gizzard.

Drain the salt pork; cut off the rind and discard it. Chop the salt pork into cubes and place them in a food processor. Purée to a paste, dropping the 3 remaining garlic cloves through the feed tube while the motor is running. Stir the paste into the beans.

Preheat the oven to 325°.

Skin the duck, pull all the meat from the bones and cut it into chunks. Stir the duck into the beans along with the lamb and pork cubes. Skin the garlic sausage and cut into rounds; stir into the beans.

Before baking the cassoulet, check the beans. If they are too dry (it is preferable that they be too moist), stir in a cup or two of warm water. Smooth the top of the beans, mix the bread crumbs with the parsley, and sprinkle half the mixture over the beans.

Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir the top crust into the beans, sprinkle on the remaining bread crumb mixture and bake until a crust has formed and browned well, another 45 minutes. Serve immediately.