Summer chicken cassoulet

Summer chicken cassoulet

New Classics
Mark Roper

This is a summery, lighter version of cassoulet. Usually a very rich dish, made with confit duck or even goose, pork sausage and loads of breadcrumbs, it is a wonderful classic but this version is for the warmer months, so I use chicken, ripe tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables, along with the traditional cannellini beans.

Boudin blanc


Quantity Ingredient
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 egg whites
220ml thickened cream
20g fresh tarragon, chopped
A pinch cayenne pepper
white pepper
a few drops truffle oil, (optional)

Confit chicken

Quantity Ingredient
4 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
200g rock salt
4 chicken leg quarters
2kg duck fat, available at good butchers and food stores
6 baby carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
4 banana shallots, thickly sliced
200ml extra-virgin olive oil or enough to cover the base of the pan well
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
garlic, crushed
1 x 3cm kaiserfleisch or good-quality smoked bacon
300g cannellini beans, soaked overnight
2 litres Chicken stock
4-6 good-quality, fragrant truss tomatoes, stalks left on
160g fresh white breadcrumbs
tarragon, stems removed, roughly chopped
100g butter, melted
salt and pepper


  1. To make the boudin blanc, refrigerate the bowl of a food processor for 10 minutes. Cut the chicken fillets into about 6–8 chunks and blend in the chilled food processor with 1 teaspoon salt until smooth and shiny. Add the egg whites and continue to process until glossy.
  2. Transfer the chicken mixture from the food processor into a large bowl and firmly stir in the cream. Add the tarragon, cayenne pepper and white pepper to taste. Add the truffle oil now, if using. Check the seasoning by wrapping a teaspoonful of the mousse in plastic wrap, like a little sausage, then tying off the ends and poaching in a saucepan of boiling water for 2–3 minutes. Unwrap and taste the boudin, and then season if necessary.
  3. Put the chicken mixture into a piping bag with a wide nozzle. Lay four 30 cm sheets of plastic wrap on a work surface (you can do these one at a time, if you prefer). Pipe a thick 15 cm sausage down the centre of each piece of plastic wrap and roll up tightly. Make sure there are no air bubbles. Tie off each end.
  4. Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer over medium heat. Poach or steam the boudin gently (simmer only, if poaching) for 5–6 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. To make the confit chicken, preheat the oven to 130°C. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the herbs, garlic and a little of the salt then mix with the rest of the salt. Toss the chicken leg quarters in the salt and leave to disgorge for 4 hours at room temperature. (This will draw moisture from the flesh while also imparting the flavours from the salt.) Rinse all the salt mixture off.
  6. Melt the duck fat in a deep baking dish, add the chicken leg quarters and cover with a piece of baking paper pressed onto the surface. Cover with foil and cook for 3 hours. Allow to cool in the fat. When cool, gently remove the chicken and drain on paper towel. Cut the thighs from the legs and set aside until serving. Strain the fat into a bucket, cool to room temperature and refrigerate for next time.
  7. Sweat the carrots and shallots in the extra-virgin olive oil until they start to colour. Add the herbs, garlic, kaiserfleisch and beans then pour over the stock. Simmer for 20–30 minutes, topping up the stock if necessary, until the beans are tender. Remove the kaiserfleisch and cut into 2 cm pieces.
  8. Increase the oven temperature to 190°C. Put the chicken legs and thighs on a tray lined with baking paper and put in the oven while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  9. Split the boudin diagonally and chargrill or pan-fry on the cut surface until nicely coloured. Check the seasoning of the beans remembering the confit chicken will be salty. Warm the beans with the kaiserfleisch, tomatoes and boudin pieces arranged nicely in a casserole dish or copper pan. Add the chicken legs and thighs.
  10. Mix the breadcrumbs with the tarragon and butter and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the cassoulet and bake for 15–20 minutes or until bubbling and the crumbs are golden.
  11. To serve

    Serve in the middle of the table with a big green salad.
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