After being inspired by Carb Lover a little over a year ago and finding another recipe in the San Jose paper last month (linked below) I made my first effort at this classic dish. The cooking part on Friday went smoothly but the serving aspect was delayed a couple of days which kept me from following the exact sequencing in the "next day" part of the directions. However, when served up on the following Tues evening for a couple of houndly friends it got raves.
I used about a half pound more of cannelini beans (from the bulk dispensers) than called for, two packages of the duck confit, and Andouille sausage (house made) all from our local Whole Foods. To compensate for the extra beans I used most of the bottle of white wine (Meridian Chard) and didn't drain the large can of crushed tomato. I also had a little more sausage and pork butt than called for and cut the latter into smaller than 2 inch pieces.
K and I both sampled bowls that evening and thought it was a great bean soup at that point even w/o the sausage and duck. Put the whole giant pot in the fridge planning to finish up on Sunday. We kept sampling during the day on Sat and Sun, noticing that the flavors just kept improving. BTW, Carb Lover, you were correct, there was very little fat congealed on the top after chilling, not worth removing. On Sunday, with our dinner plans pushed back to Tues, I brought it back up to temp on the stovetop and threw in the duck and the cooked sausage for a half hour or so.
After cooling I removed the four pieces of confit and put two in a baggie in the fridge along with a large casserole dish of the beans for Tues dinner. I pulled the meat off the two other legs and thighs in bite size pieces, added to the considerable amount remaining in the pot then divided into four one gallon bags for freezing, figuring each will be a meal for two.
On Tues I let the casserole dish sit out for a couple of hours at room temp then added the duck as before. It began to bubble around the edges in the oven rather quickly so I decided at the last minute to add the breadcrumbs. Unfortunately we needed to get to a wine tasting and I wasn't able to leave it in the oven to get all the crumb topping as brown as it should have been. I'll probably just leave this step out in the future. At this point the consistency was pretty thick but the beans not mushy. I should note that the mixture was a bit more liquid at the point where I separated it for freezing, so imagine the breadcrumbs contributed to the thickening along with the uncovered oven cooking. The ladies had never had this dish before, and the only experience my pal and I had with it was last fall at a little place in Carmel called The Gem. We both thought this version was superior.
I matched the dish with a bottle of 2001 Qupe Syrah (Santa Ynez) which went great with the hearty texture, flavors and the spicy note that the Andouille added. I imagine it would go great with any of the good Rhone blends from the central coast (Tablas Creek, L'Aventure, Robt. Hall), a peppery style Zinfandel, or perhaps even a big or old world sytle Pinot Noir like Windward from Paso Robles? I'm also thinking of trying it with a Mourvedre from Tablas Creek that I found and maybe one of the Cab Francs that was recommended in one of the bay area wine columns this past week (Lang & Reed, Detert, Crocker-Starr). I've tasted the L&R and thought it was quite good. Any other recs from the hounds?
Next time I think I'll add another carrot and increase the amount of onion a bit. Also am considering using nice full bodied red wine instead of white, a syrah or blend. Would appreciate any thoughts about this from fellow hounds.