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Cassoulet in the Style of Toulouse (Cassoulet de Toulouse)

['1 pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 12 chunks', '"1 1/2 pounds fresh ham hock or pigs knuckles, cracked by the butcher", 3/4 pound fresh pork skin with 1/4-inch layer of hard fat attached', 'Salt and freshly ground pepper', '2 pounds dried white beans, such as Tarbais, Lingots, or cannellini, rinsed and picked over to remove any grit', '1/3 cup fat from confit or rendered duck fat', '2 medium onions, chopped', '3 small carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds', '1/2 pound ventrèche or pancetta, or blanched lean salt pork, in one piece, about 1 1/4-inches thick', '1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled, plus 4 small cloves garlic, peeled', '1 large plum tomato, peeled or 1 tablespoon sun-dried tomato paste', '2 quarts unsalted chicken stock (storebought or homemade)', 'Herb bouquet: 4 sprigs parsley, 2 sprigs thyme, 1 imported bay leaf, and 3 small celery ribs tied together with string', '6 confit of duck legs, drumsticks and thighs separated, or substitute 12 confit of duck wings', '1/4 pound fresh hard pork fat or blanched fat salt pork', '1 pound Toulouse sausages or fresh garlic-flavored pork sausages', '2 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs', '2 tablespoons French walnut oil']

Two days in advance, season the pork shoulder, fresh ham hock or pig’s knuckles, and the pork skin moderately with salt and pepper. Place in an earthenware or glass dish, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover by at least 2 inches.
The following day, simmer the pork skin in water to cover until it is supple, 10 to 20 minutes. Drain, roll up the strip, and tie it with string.
Dry the cubes of pork shoulder with paper towels. In an 8- or 9-quart flameproof casserole, heat the duck fat over moderately high heat. Add the pork shoulder and lightly brown on all sides. Add the onions and carrots and sauté, stirring, until the onions are soft and golden, about 5 minutes. Add the ham hock or pig’s knuckles and the whole piece of ventrèche or pancetta. Allow these meats to brown a little around the edges, turning the pieces occasionally. Add the whole head of garlic, and the tomato or tomato paste; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the stock, bundle of pork skin, and herb bouquet. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the ragout for 1 1/2 hours.
When the ragout has cooked for l hour, drain the beans and put them into a large saucepan, cover with fresh water, and slowly bring to a boil. Skim, and simmer for a few minutes, then drain and immediately add the beans to the simmering ragout. Continue simmering for up to 2 hours, or until the beans are tender. (You can tell when the beans are done by removing one or two beans with a spoon and blowing on them—the skins will burst.) Let cool, then skim off all the fat that has risen to the top; reserve 2 tablespoons of this fat for finishing the cassoulet. Cover the pork ragout and beans and refrigerate overnight to develop the flavors.
The next day, steam the duck confit for 10 minutes to soften. As soon as the meat is cool enough to handle, pull it off the bones in large chunks.
Remove the ragout and beans from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Pick out the ham hock or pig’s knuckles, pancetta, garlic head, and herb bouquet. Cut the meat from the ham hock or pig’s knuckles into bite-size pieces, discarding bones and fatty parts. Cut the pancetta into 1-inch pieces, discarding the extraneous fat. Set all the meats aside. Press on the garlic to extract the pulp and set aside. Discard the garlic skins and herb bouquet.
In a food processor or electric blender, puree the pork fat or salt pork with the cooked and raw garlic and 1 cup water. Add this garlic puree to the ragout and beans and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat. Fold reserved meats into the ragout and beans.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. To assemble the cassoulet, remove the roll of pork skin from the ragout. Untie, cut the skin into 2-inch pieces, and use to line a 5 1/2- or 6-quart ovenproof casserole, preferably earthenware, and fat side down—the skin side sticks (see Note below). Using a large slotted spoon or skimmer, add one half of the beans and pork shoulder. Scatter the duck confit on top of the pork and beans. Cover with the remaining beans and pork ragout. Taste the ragout cooking liquid and adjust the seasoning; there will probably be no need for salt. Pour just enough of the ragout liquid over the beans to cover them. Be sure there is at least 1 inch of “growing space” between the beans and the rim of the dish. Drizzle with the 2 tablespoons fat reserved in Step 4. Place the casserole in the oven and let cook for 1 1/2 hours.
Prick the sausages and brown them under a hot broiler or in a skillet. Drain; cut larger sausages into 3- or 4-inch pieces.
Reduce the oven heat to 275°F. Gently stir up the skin that has formed on the beans. Place the sausages on top of the beans. Dust the bread crumbs on top of the beans and sausage. Bake the cassoulet for 1 more hour. The top crust should become a beautiful golden brown; if it isn’t, turn on the broiler and carefully “toast” the top layer of beans, about 2 minutes. Transfer the cassoulet from the oven to a cloth-lined surface and let it rest 20 minutes. Drizzle with the walnut oil just before serving.

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