First, prepare the bean mixture. In a large pot combine the beans with their liquid and the salted pork. On the onion, lay the two bay leaves across it's open face and secure them onto the onion with the whole cloves to make an onion pique. Add the onion pique to the pot along with the water, then bring the mixture to a low boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and let the beans cook for an hour.
Next, prepare the stew. In a pot, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the diced slab bacon and let it cook and render out for about 5 minutes. The sausage goes in next, let it cook with the bacon while you gently break it up into chunks for another 5 minutes. Remove the sausage and bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon onto a plate and set it aside.
The onion, celery, cherry tomatoes and garlic go in next to cook in the bacon fat just until soft and tender, for about a minute. Then the beef cubes go in. Let them brown for 3-4 minutes while you give them a pinch of salt, then deglaze the pot with the red wine. Let the wine cook off for 3-4 minutes, then add the Worcestershire sauce, beef stock and bay leaves. Bring the stew to a boil, then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and olive oil and stir them both together until it resembles wet sand. When the beans and stew are both done simmering, take them off of the heat and get out a sturdy, large dutch oven. Remove the onion pique and pork from the pot of beans and discard them, then drain the beans. Remove the bay leaves from the stew.
Assemble the cassoulet by scooping the beans into the bottom of the dutch oven. Pour the beef stew over the beans and add in the cooked sausage and bacon. Give that all a stir, then sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top to absorb into the liquid. Cover the dutch oven with its lid, then get it into the oven to cook for an hour to an hour and a half.
Take the cassoulet out when it's done and let it cool for a few minutes. Then just ladle it into bowls and sprinkle a little fresh thyme on top. Serve hot and enjoy the comfort!