4 cloves garlic, smashed 1 shallot, peeled and sliced 6 sprigs thyme Coarsely ground black pepper 4 duck legs with thighs 4 duck wings, trimmed About 4 cups duck fat* Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough

Duck Confit
3 tablespoons salt
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 shallot, peeled and sliced
6 sprigs thyme
Coarsely ground black pepper
4 duck legs with thighs
4 duck wings, trimmed
About 4 cups duck fat*
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt in the bottom of a dish or plastic container large enough to hold the duck pieces in a single layer. Evenly scatter half the garlic, shallots and thyme in the container. Arrange the duck, skin-side up, over the salt mixture, then sprinkle with the remaining salt, garlic, shallots, thyme and a little pepper. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 225 degrees. Melt the duck fat in a small saucepan. Brush the salt and seasonings off the duck. Arrange the duck pieces in a single snug layer in a high-sided baking dish or ovenproof saucepan. Pour the melted fat over the duck (the duck pieces should be covered by fat) and place the confit in the oven. Cook the confit slowly at a very slow simmer – just an occasional bubble – until the duck is tender and can be easily pulled from the bone, 2 to 3 hours. Remove the confit from the oven. Cool and store the duck in the fat. Confit will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
* You can order duck fat from amazon.com or deandeluca.com or dartagnan.com. If you’re a duck hunter, score the skin and slow roast to render the fat from the duck.
Cassoulet de Tupelo
4 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
3 pounds fully cooked sausage, such as andouille, cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick rounds
2 medium onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 cup brandy
3 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes in juice
1 box chicken stock
Meat from 4 legs duck confit
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups coarse fresh breadcrumbs made from crustless French bread
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Dab of butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook bacon in heavy large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until brown and crisp, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to bowl. Add sausages to drippings in pot; sautampé until brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to bowl with bacon. Pour off all but 1/4 cup drippings from pot. Add onions and garlic to pot and sautampé until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in rosemary, thyme and crushed red pepper. Add brandy and simmer until almost evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in canned beans, tomatoes with juices, stock, duck meat, tomato paste and allspice. Return sausages and bacon to pot. Season cassoulet with salt and pepper. Bring to boil.
Cover pot and transfer to preheated oven; bake 30 minutes. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Uncover; cool 1 hour. Refrigerate uncovered until cold; cover and keep refrigerated. Before continuing, cover and rewarm in 350-degree oven 40 minutes, adding more broth if dry.) Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and sautampé until light golden, about 4 minutes. Transfer to small bowl. Mix in Parmesan cheese; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle over warm cassoulet. Bake until breadcrumb topping is deep golden, about 20 minutes. Sprinkle cassoulet with parsley and serve. Best if made a day or two ahead.
Makes 8 to 10 servings.
French Onion Soup
1/2 stick butter
6 onions (about 3 pounds), sliced thin and cut in half
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup brandy
3 cups chicken stock
3 cups beef stock or broth
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 sourdough bread slices, toasted
1 cup grated Gruyere or Swiss cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and sautampé until very tender and brown, about 45 minutes. Add herbs, wine and brandy and simmer until reduced to glaze, about 3 minutes. Stir in chicken stock, beef stock and mustard. Simmer 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate. Return soup to simmer before continuing.)
Preheat broiler. Ladle soup into broiler-proof bowls. Top each with slice of toast and grated cheeses. Broil until cheeses melt and bubble.
Makes 4 servings.

Champagne-Anesitte Poached Pears
1 bottle champagne, preferably pink (about 31/2 cups)
1/2 Cup Pernod or Sambuca
1 cup sugar
Zest of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise (optional)
2 large firm pears, such as Bosc, or 4 small pears, such as Seckel, peeled
Combine all the ingredients except the pears in a pot and bring to a simmer.
Carefully lower the pears into the liquid, adding up to 1 cup water to make sure the fruit is fully submerged. Simmer until the pears are tender, 15 to 17 minutes for small pears, 25 to 30 minutes for large ones. Cool the pears in the cooking liquid for 30 minutes before serving, or store them in the refrigerator, still in the liquid, for up to a week.
Serve chilled with your favorite chocolate ganache, cookies or gelato.
Makes 2 servings.

Ginna Parsons