Cassoulet with Chicken or Duck
1 lb dried white beans
8 cups cold water
2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups onion, chopped
1 (3-inch) piece celery, cut into thirds
3 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
3 whole cloves
3 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs plus 1/2 cup chopped leaves
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 (14-oz) can stewed tomatoes, finely chopped with juice
4 chicken or duck legs (1 3/4 lb total)
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb cooked pork or chicken sausage, cut crosswise into thick slices
2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a baguette)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Soak and cook beans:
Cover beans with cold water by 2 inches in a large bowl and soak 8 to 12 hours. Drain in a colander.
Transfer beans to a 6- to 8-quart pot and bring to a boil with 8 cups cold water, broth, tomato paste, onion, and 2 tablespoons garlic. Put celery, thyme, bay leaf, cloves, parsley sprigs, and peppercorns in cheesecloth and tie into a bundle with string to make a bouquet garni. Add bouquet garni to beans, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until beans are almost tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Stir in tomatoes with juice and simmer until beans are just tender, about 15 minutes more.
Prepare chicken or duck and sausage while beans simmer:
In a large skillet, cooked chicken or duck legs, skin side down, until deeply browned. Turn and brown the other side then transfer to a plate. Add the sausage to the pan and brown on both sides as well. Remove from pan, slice and set aside with the chicken or duck. Reserve skillet oil for toasting bread crumbs later.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Make bread crumb topping:
Add remaining tablespoon garlic to fat in skillet and cook over moderate heat, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in bread crumbs and cook, stirring, until pale golden, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chopped parsley, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and cracklings.
Remove bouquet garni from beans and discard, then stir in sausage, chicken/duck meat, remaining teaspoon salt, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Ladle cassoulet into casserole dish, distributing meat and beans evenly. (Meat and beans should be level with liquid; if they are submerged, ladle excess liquid back into pot and boil until reduced, then pour back into casserole dish.) Spread bread crumb topping evenly over cassoulet and bake, uncovered, in lower third of oven, until bubbling and crust is golden, about 1 hour.