Gallery: Behind the Scenes: Making Back Forty's Cassoulet

Cassoulet
Cassoulet
Nowadays cassoulet refers to a variety of bean casseroles, but Back Forty makes a fairly traditional version with duck confit, cured pork belly, and housemade sausage.
Vegetables
Vegetables
While this is a pretty protein-heavy dish, a few vegetables do slip in. Carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and a small sack of herbs make up the beginning of the bean stew. Fear not, it's meatopia from here on out.
Beans and Stock
Beans and Stock
The remainder of the stew is white runner beans, duck stock, and "pork gear." It's the result of cooking the head and feet of a pig for a few days in pork stock and mirepoix, which is strained before adding the meat back in. This imparts flavor from the meat along with gelatin from the feet and skin.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
They say "laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made." Well here goes nothing... (Actually, watching sausage being made at Back Forty is pretty awesome.)
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
A simple mixture of pork, garlic, and scallion are ground, with plenty of pork fat in the mix.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
The sausage is seasoned liberally with salt, black pepper, coriander, and sugar.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
The ground meat takes a spin in the mixer; the mixing bowl is kept over bowl of ice water to keep the meat chilled.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
The sausage casing is stored in salt to keep it nice and dry...
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
...and gets a thorough rinsing before it's attached to the sausage-stuffer.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
Really, what did you expect it to look like?
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
"I've spent a surprisingly large amount of time being photographed making sausage," Chef Laarhoven mentioned. Well, can you blame us?
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
The sausage gets extruded into the casing.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
Once the casing is filled, the sausage is thoroughly poked with holes to release any air bubbles. Air bubbles bursting in the oven = sad sausage.
Making the Sausage
Making the Sausage
Is any one else inspired by this to try to make balloon-animal shaped sausage? No? Just me?
The Cassoulet Comes Together
The Cassoulet Comes Together
Back to the cassoulet at hand! The bean stew from earlier is topped with a link of sausage, a hunk of pork belly, and a piece of duck confit.
Duck Confit
Duck Confit
To make the duck confit, a leg and thigh portion is salted with a house-made mixture of curing salts, kosher salt, peppercorns, sugar and citrus zest.
Duck Confit
Duck Confit
You think that's mashed potatoes? Nope, that's pure duck fat, which the duck legs have been contentedly buried in.
Pork Belly
Pork Belly
The pork belly is cured for a week and then smoked for three or four hours. Here it is part way through the process...
Pork Belly
Pork Belly
And this is the final result.
Back Forty's Cassoulet
Back Forty's Cassoulet
When it comes out of the oven, you have a perfect stick-to-your ribs winter meal.