Cassoulet can be an intimidating dish to consider but you can make an authentic one with a small amount of skill and a tremendous amount of patience. It takes time—that's the only requirement. —Belle Année
5 hours 30 minutes
For the bean and vegetable base:
dried haricot, cannellini, or navy beans soaked in water overnight
Drain the beans that have been soaking overnight, discarding the water, and tip them into a large Dutch oven (or other oven-proof pot). Cut the bacon into lardons and add to the beans. Cover with cold water. Bring to a boil for 15 to 20 minutes then drain the beans and lardons in a colander in the sink discarding the cooking water. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 250° F.
Return the Dutch oven to the stove top over medium-low heat. Add the goose or duck fat and sweat the celery, onion, carrot, and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the sausage along with the beans and lardons and pour in 1.2 liters (2 pints) water or just enough to barely cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil, skim off the scum that rises to the surface, then add the salt, pepper, clove, and lemon juice.
Move the pot to the oven and cook, uncovered, for 2 hours, stirring once, half-way through. After two hours the beans will be soft and creamy in texture and some of the water will have evaporated and the liquid will have thickened. If this is not the case then add another 30 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven. Bury the duck legs in the beans and sprinkle over the duck fat, bread crumbs, and garlic. Return it to the oven and cook for a further 2 hours.
Serve in a shallow, large bowl with each person receiving one duck leg and a large serving of the beans and vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with a rustic French red wine, preferably a red Burgundy.