I know I always seem to talk about time flying, but it really, really does! This month is the one year anniversary of my blog, and marks my one year anniversary with the Daring Kitchen. The year has been exciting and busy on all fronts, and I am really excited to start this second year of Daring Cooking, blogging, and sharing a bit of my family life with you.
All that being said, I am actually amazed to be posting right now. The addition of little man into our family has been great, but the transition from having one very self sufficient preschooler to having that same preschooler and a newborn is pretty tricky. And tiring.
But I could not skip this challenge. Not that I ever want to skip a challenge, but I really didn't want to skip this one. Why? Because it was hosted by one of the Daring Kitchen members that I really, really respect, one whose blog is on my blog-roll on the right hand side there. And she and her awesome co-host chose something that sounded so interesting to me, I just knew that I would have to figure out how to get this done.
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.
Confit is a way of preserving foods (meats, vegetables) by slow-cooking them in oil. Cassoulet is a slow-cooked French stew with beans. Together, they make for a complex and delicious sounding challenge.
When I first read the challenge, I thought that there was no way I would be able to participate - the traditional recipe that they chose involved a lot of complicated ingredients and a LOT of time - at least three days of preparation to make it fully according to the directions. But where there is a will, there is a way. And where there are alternate recipes and options, crazy moms of newborns will complete cooking challenges.
What follows is what will probably be the least-wordy description of a cooking process you'll ever see from me, but hey - at least I am posting! :)
For starters, I chose to make chicken, rather than duck confit, using chicken thighs. The thighs were seasoned and a clove of garlic was placed on each one:
The meat was then drowned in olive oil:
The pan was then covered and placed in a 200 degree oven overnight. 16 hours later, this is what the chicken looked like:
Yum. And I think I ate most of that garlic right off the top rather than leaving it for the cassoulet. Oops.
For the cassoulet, I pretty much followed the recipe suggested by the hostesses for a vegetarian cassoulet, with only a couple of minor variations. I didn't have leeks, which the recipe called for, so I just omitted them, but I added onions and potatoes. I also didn't have white beans, the beans called for in the recipe, so I used what I had - pinto and kidney beans.
The vegetables were roughly chopped:
They were then cooked over medium heat in the soup pot (and for good measure, I actually used some of the oil from the chicken confit for cooking my veggies), at which point the beans were added to the pot, along with water to cover everything:
Then everything simmered and stewed and came together quite nicely. I then shredded the chicken confit and added that right in to the pot:
I then let it simmer some more to combine all of the flavors and to allow the stew to thicken up. Before serving, I spooned the stew (well, as much as would fit) into a casserole dish and topped it with lightly seasoned bread crumbs, then placed that under the broiler for a couple of minutes, until at last we had this:
This was served with a side of freshly baked bread, and was absolutely delicious. We actually had the leftovers for dinner a couple of days later, and it reheated beautifully and tasted just as good if not better the second time around.
Jenni and Lisa, thank you so much for this challenge - I will definitely be making this again, and hopefully trying the full version of the recipe, too. I am so glad that I didn't miss out on this one!
To see the delicious looking concoctions created by the other Daring Cooks, check them out here.
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