Chefs: Jan Mendenhall, Kay Carbery
Ingredients for Chicken
- 1 cup kosher salt or 1/2 cup table salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 10 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (about 3 1/2 lbs)
Ingredients for Topping
- 6 slices good-quality white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2 inch dice (about 3 cups)
- 3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
Ingredients for Cassoulet
- 4 slices bacon (about 4 oz)
- 1 lb dried flageolet or great Northern beans, rinsed
- 1 medium onion, peeled and left whole, studded with cloves (3-5?)
- 1 small onion chopped
- 4 medium cloves garlic: 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 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tbs tomato paste
- 1 tbs minced fresh thyme leaves
- 1 bay leaf
- Ground black pepper
- 1 3/4 cups chicken stock (canned low sodium OK)
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 lbs sausage in casing (could be kielbasa, garlic, andouille, whatever you have)
1.FOR THE CHICKEN: In a gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, dissolve the salt and sugar in 1 qt. cold water. Add the chicken, pressing out as much air as possible, seal and refrigerate until fully seasoned, about 1 hour. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and pat dry with paper towels. Refrigerate until ready to use.
2.FOR THE TOPPING: While the chicken is brining, adjust the oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the bread cubes and butter in a small baking dish. Bake, tossing occasionally, until light golden brown and crisp, 8-12 minutes. Cool to room temperature and set aside.
3.FOR THE CASSOULET: Cook the bacon slices over medium heat in a large ovenproof Dutch oven until just beginning to crisp and most of the fat has rendered 5-6 minutes. Leaving the bacon in the pot, pour the bacon grease into a heatproof measuring cup and reserve. Return the pot to the heat and add the beans, 10 cups water, whole onion, and whole garlic cloves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are partially cooked and almost tender, 40 – 50 minutes. Reserving 1 ½ cups cooking liquid, drain the beans. Discard the onion, garlic, and bacon.
4.While beans are cooking, prick sausages, place them in a large heavy frying pan over medium heat and cook for 20-25 minutes until browned, turning occasionally. Drain on paper towels. (A tbs. of the fat from the pan can be added to the bacon grease.) Sausage can be sliced into slices, or more traditionally, added whole, or cut in ½. (added with chicken in step 6.) If using kielbasa, it can be added without pre-cooking, if desired.
5.Add vegetable oil to reserved bacon grease to equal ¼ cup. In the now-empty pot, heat the oil mixture over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half of the chicken thighs, fleshy side down; cook until lightly browned, 3-4 minutes. Using tongs, turn the chicken and cook until lightly browned on the second side, 2-3 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a large plate; repeat with the remaining thighs and set aside.
6.Drain off all but 2 tbs. of the fat from the pot. Return the pot to medium heat; add the pork pieces, and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3-4 minutes. Add the minced garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, bay leaf, and pepper to taste. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the chicken stock, wine, and 1 cup reserved bean cooking liquid. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, scraping up the browned bits from bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Add the chicken, sausage and beans. If the liquid does not fully cover the chicken, add the remaining ½ cup reserved bean cooking liquid. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through and the beans are tender, about 40 minutes. (Cassoulet con be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.)
7.Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 425 degrees. Off heat, sprinkle the surface with bread crumbs. Bake, uncovered, until the topping is golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let the cassoulet rest 10 minutes, and then serve from the pot.