Friday, January 14, 2011

January Daring Cooks' Challenge - Cassoulet with Confit

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.


  1. Oh yum, the chicken confit looks absolutely delicious! Your cassoulet looks fantastic! Congratulations on your baby boy!

  2. Happy blog anniversary! And happy DB anniversary too! Look forward to many many more of your posts :-)

    This seems like a wonderful challenge, cassoulet looks delicious!

  3. Happy 1 year! You did a fantastic job, and it's well documented. I still remember your souffles, those were my first visit here. Daring Cooks is so awesome and such a warm community.

  4. Wow - I am seriously impressed you did this challenge. Well done. Hope everything is going well for you with the wee one. Lou.

  5. Well done! It looks delicious, and I'm sure I'd have eaten all that garlic from the confit too... yum.

  6. Congrats on the new baby and wonderful that you could find time to do this challenge. Yes your chicken confit looks marvellous I do it like your a very cool oven for about 18 hrs. I love how you can see the tenderness of the meat. Excellent result well done.

    Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia.

  7. Great job on the cassoulet - of course having 2 helpers instead of one in the kitchen must have made it easier ;-)

    The chicken confit looks wonderful. I also would have picked off all the garlic! yum!

  8. I just licked my laptop screen...looks delicious! Good for you for sticking with it :)

  9. I can't believe you were able to squeeze this in with the birth of your sweet bundle of 'boy'! I'm so flattered that you wanted to fit in partly 'cuz of me! Well, then I can take partial credit for your gorgeous and mouth watering cassoulet, well, wish I could simply taste it! Beautifully done all around, and love the chicken confit!

  10. So many positive and awesome things going on in your life, so, triple congratulations for your blog anniversary, for the baby and for completing the challenge! Your chicken confit looks so moist and delicious, and I love that you made vegetable cassoulet for a balance. Looks delicious!
    By the way, the garlic confit was indeed sweet as candy :)

  11. Shell..I forgot to add, Happy First Daring and Blogiversary!! :)

  12. Congratulations again on your baby boy, and Happy One-Year Blog/Daring Kitchen Anniversary! Your blog posts are so wonderful to read and your food always looks delicious, and this is no exception. I'm so impressed you found the time to make the cassoulet and it looks absolutely delicious. Looking forward to another year of reading your blog. :)

  13. Congrats on your new baby boy and hooray for crazy mamas who do daring kitchen challenges with wee ones underfoot!!

  14. Beautiful cassoulet! Great job on this challenge.

  15. Yay for the anniversary and the new baby! Makes it really incredible you got it done and what an awesome job. Can't blame you for steal all the garlic off the chicken hehe.

  16. The potatoes sound like a good addition to the recipe. Very hearty. Looks great!

  17. Wonderful job on your cassoulet! It looks absolutely magnificent! And congratulations on your new bundle of joy! Actually, I think you get extra gold stars for making cassoulet with a preschooler and a newborn! You win! :) I found it hard enough to cook with a 7 months old! I always wonder how parents find the time to have a second child, I seem so busy now, I don't know how it could be done with a second! :) Great job!

  18. Your cassoulet looks so delicious! Looking at your photos, I just want to soak up all that broth with some good bread. Love how you confitted the chicken, leaving it in the oven over night is definitely the way to go.


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