Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Simplified Cassoulet with Pork and Kielbasa

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 10 bone-in chicken thighs (about 3 1/2 pounds), skin removed
  • 6 slices good-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 4 slices bacon (about 4 ounces)
  • 1 pound dried flageolet or great Northern beans, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and left whole, plus 1 small onion, chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, 2 peeled and left whole, 2 peeled and minced
  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 pound boneless blade-end pork loin roast, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound Kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch slices

1. Brining the chicken: In gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve salt and sugar in 1 quart cold water. Add chicken, pressing out as much air as possible; seal and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove chicken from brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Preparing the topping: While chicken is brining, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position; heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread crumbs and butter in small baking dish. Bake, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown and crisp, 8 to 12 minutes. Cool to room temperature; set aside.

3. In heavy-bottomed, 8-quart Dutch oven, cook bacon slices over medium heat until just beginning to crisp and most fat has rendered, 5 to 6 minutes. Leaving bacon slices in pan, pour off bacon grease into heatproof measuring cup and reserve. Return pan to heat; add beans, 10 cups water, whole onion, and whole garlic cloves to pan with bacon. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low, cover partially, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are partially cooked and almost tender, 40 to 50 minutes. Reserving 1¬Ω cups cooking liquid, drain beans. Discard onion, garlic, and bacon.

3. Add vegetable oil to reserved bacon grease to equal ¼ cup. In now-empty Dutch oven, heat bacon grease and vegetable oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of chicken thighs, fleshy-side down; cook until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Using tongs, turn chicken pieces and cook until lightly browned on second side, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Transfer chicken to large plate; repeat with remaining thighs and set aside. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Return pot to medium heat; add pork pieces and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, and pepper to taste; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in chicken stock, wine, and 1 cup of reserved bean cooking liquid; increase heat to medium-high and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits off bottom of pot with wooden spoon. Add chicken and beans; if liquid does not fully cover chicken and beans, add remaining ½ cup reserved bean cooking liquid. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through and beans are tender, about 40 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Off heat, gently stir in Kielbasa and sprinkle surface with bread crumbs. Bake uncovered until topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes and serve.

8 servings

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