Deca Restaurant's Cassoulet

January 22, 2013 9:51:58 AM PST
There's nothing like hearty comfort food to help warm you up on cold days.

Chuck Kazmer, Executive Sous Chef at Deca Restaurant in the Ritz-Carlton Chicago share's his recipe for the classic comfort dish, cassoulet and tells us about the special "Comfort in a Bowl" menu this January at Deca.

On January 26, come in and cozy up with a special dinner featuring Deca's Comfort in a Bowl Menu paired with Goose Island beers. $49 per person. For reservations, 312-573-5163 or

Serves 6

1 pound fresh pork belly
2 cups of kosher salt
2 pounds of tarbais beans
1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
4 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
8 sprigs of thyme
6 sprigs of rosemary
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 cup of duck fat
1 large yellow onion
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
6 celery stalks, peeled and diced
1/2 cup of tomato paste
2 cups of canned plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
2 cloves of garlic plus 2 tablespoons of garlic minced
1 bouquet garni
6 cups of chicken stock
1 pound of garlic sausage cut in half
6 ducks legs, confit
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup of chopped flat leaf parsley

Cure the pork belly; in a large casserole dish or deep bowl, cover pork belly in salt refrigerate over night.

Day 2
Soak the beans: pick through the beans and discard any pebbles or discolored ones. Pour them into a large bowl, cover with water, and soak over night.

Remove the pork belly from the fridge and rinse away the salt. Return the meat to the casserole dish and add the head of garlic, cloves bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and peppercorns. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the flavors to mingle over night.

Day 3
Assemble the cook the cassoulet: remove the pork belly from the fridge and cut into 1 inch cubes. Add the herbs and spices to the bouquet garni. Discard the garlic.

Pre heat oven to 350 F, drain the beans.

In a large casserole dish or Dutch oven, melt the duck fat over a medium flame. Add the diced onion and cook for about 5 minutes to soften but not brown. Add the carrots and celery and continue to cook for 5 minutes more. Add the soaked beans, tomato paste, chopped tomatoes, 2 cloves of minced garlic, bouquet garni, and the pork belly. Stir well to combine. Add the stock and bring to a simmer. Skim away any foam that accumulates on the surface, cover and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, at which point the beans should be tender. Remove the casserole from the oven and add the sausage pieces and the duck confit. Stir gently to combine.

Combine the breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, and the chopped parsley in a small bowl. Mix thoroughly and sprinkle over the cassoulet. Return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the top turns golden brown.