For using up any surplus created by the recipe above.
Cook the beans separately. The best are gigantic belles de Soisson. I bring
For appearance’s sake, brown separately, in a minimum of oil or rendered poultry fat or dripping, the pheasant legs and at least one spicy sausage such as a Toulouse sausage per person. I also like to use the big fat Lyonnaise sausages, about one for every 4 diners. The pheasant (or any other game, for that matter) is replacing the confit of duck or goose (preserved in its own fat).
Now assemble the dish. Put the beans, with thyme and bay leaves removed, in a flat oven-to-table gratin dish with a fresh sliced onion and a coarsely chopped tomato or two. (The tomato is optional, and a source of controversy, but a little of it helps the flavour enormously.) Cut the now-cooked bacon into chunks and tuck them into the beans, along with the pheasant and sausages. Sprinkle with more thyme, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper.
Strew breadcrumbs over the top of the gratin dish and dot with some sort of fat. As you have been very good and hardly added any fat to the dish apart from the meat, you could restore some of the traditional unctuousness to this dish by using deliciously flavoured rendered-with-onion duck, goose or chicken fat for this purpose. Cook in a hot oven until bubbling and push the breadcrumb crust down once or twice to thicken the dish, adding another layer of breadcrumbs.
This recipe only needs a confit of duck or goose in place of the pheasant to be authentic. But the gamy flavours also result in a healthier as well as a more delicious dish. It freezes all too well; we usually find ourselves eating up leftover cassoulet in late spring.
© 1992 Paul Levy. All rights reserved.