It's almost two weeks late, but I am very happy to say:
Our January 2011 Challenge comes from Jenni of The Gingered Whisk and Lisa from Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives. They have challenged the Daring Cooks to learn how to make a confit and use it within the traditional French dish of Cassoulet. They have chosen a traditional recipe from Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman.
In my own defense, I initially attempted to make a chicken confit well before the deadline. The result resembled something the ancient Egyptians might have come up with if they wanted to send to send some poultry off into the afterlife with a hungry mummy. I think I'm finally learning that when presented with a vegan option for any of the Daring Cooks challenges, take it! (So these are not actually the Bourdain and Ruhlman recipes...sorry.)
The first element of the was a garlic confit that netted not only soft and mellow baked garlic, but also the surrounding olive oil that absorbed all that garlicky goodness. I did substitute rosemary for thyme, partially because I love the combination of rosemary and white beans, and partially because that's what I had on hand!
Adapted from Saveur
1½ cup (360 ml) olive oil
1½ tsp kosher salt, if using table salt, use ½ the amount
10 whole black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
65 garlic cloves, peeled (about 1 ½ cups)
1 dried bay leaf
Heat oven to 300°. Put ingredients into a 1-qt. pot, making sure garlic is submerged in oil. Cover pot; bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 1 hour. Let cool. Transfer mixture to a glass jar; cover surface of oil with plastic wrap. Cover jar and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
The final dish, a hearty bean cassoulet, required a great deal of time, but very little actual work. It could easily be either a protein packed side dish or a comforting meal by itself, especially with a chunk of crusty bread, slathered with your favorite spread. (Previous sentence taken directly from list of overused foodie stylings, courtesy of Shellyfish.)
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
1 lb (about 2 C) white beans, such as Great Northern or Cannelini
2 Tbs olive oil from the garlic confit (see above)
3 leeks, sliced white & pale green portion only
4 carrots, sliced
3 celery ribs, sliced
6 cloves of garlic confit (look up again)
2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 bay leaf
kosher salt to taste
The night before, rinse beans and pick over for stowaways. Place in a large pot with 6 C water, cover and leave overnight. The next day, drain and rinse beans thoroughly.
In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat olive oil over medium. Briefly saute leeks, carrots, celery and garlic, then add 4 to 6 C water, beans, rosemary and bay leaf. Do not add salt. (I used 6 C water and ended up with a lot of liquid left over in my beans. Use your own judgement.) Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 60 to 90 minutes or beans reach desired softness. Add salt and serve.
After nourishing my family, these daring beans now go to join a cast of thousands at the long running blog event My Legume Love Affair, begun by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and hosted this month by Simona of briciole.