Duck and White Bean Chili
This dish is a Southwestern interpretation of the French classic, cassoulet. The seasoning and manner of presentation are Chef Michael Roberts’ updating; however, the rich flavors of confit and hearty beans remain the stars. The duck and beans can be made up to four days in advance and reheated in a slow oven before serving. The dish must be started at least three days in advance to allow time for the duck to marinate.
- Duck leg quarters - 4 (or 2 whole ducks, cut into quarters)
- Kosher salt - 4 tablespoons
- Garlic - 1 head
- Bay Leaves - 6
- Fresh thyme sprigs - 4, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- Black peppercorns - 1/4 cup
- Juniper berries - 2 tablespoons
- Duck fat to cover pieces
- Dried White Navy Beans - 2 pounds
- Onion - 1 medium, peeled and finely diced
- Chili powder - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Carrot - 1, peeled and finely diced
- Celery Stalk - 1, finely diced
- Salt - 1 tablespoon
- Cayenne - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Dried Pasilla Chili - 1
- Chicken Stock - 3 quarts
- Ham bone or smoked ham hock - 1
- Salt to taste
- Sour Cream - 3/4 cup
- Pasilla Chilies - 1 or 2, roasted, seeded, peeled, and cut in fine strips
- Baby Lettuces - 2 cups, shredded (combination of bibb, endive, romaine, etc.)
- Ripe Tomatoes - 3, seeded and finely diced
- Warm Corn or Flour Tortillas - 12
To prepare the duck: Start three days in advance by sprinkling the pieces with the salt and letting them sit, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 275 F. Place the duck pieces in a small covered pan with the herbs and spices. Add enough melted duck fat or oil to cover the pieces entirely. Place the covered pan in the preheated oven and bake for 4 to 6 hours, or until the duck is so tender it falls off the bone. Remove from the oven and let cool in the fat. When the pieces are cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and shred the meat; reserve the fat. Set the meat and fat aside.
To prepare the beans: Place the dried beans in a colander and wash them under cold running water, picking them over well to discard any broken beans or pebbles. Place the beans in a covered saucepan, and add all the remaining bean ingredients except the salt. Bring to a boil on the top of the stove, then place in the oven with the duck. Check from time to time to see if additional stock or water is needed to keep the beans covered. When the beans begin to become tender, adjust seasoning with salt to taste. The beans will take about the same amount of time as the duck, and are cooked when they are tender but not mushy. Uncover them for the last hour, stirring occasionally.
To serve: Place the beans in a bowl and top with sour cream and strips of the roasted pasilla chilies. Scatter the lettuces on a platter or individual plates and top with the duck meat and chopped tomato. Pass the tortillas separately. Make soft tacos using all the ingredients.