Okay, so I think this fits the brief, as I didn’t buy anything recently.
About 2 weeks ago, I did some deep-frying, which I never do, and saved the fat. Then I used that fat to do a sort of porchetta pork shoulder thing, and got even more fat, which I again saved. Then I used it again for making carnitas, and re-saved. By this point it has a gentle fragrance of pork and chicken, and refrigerates to a pale golden very thick goo.
Now a week ago, I dug out a 1.5# frozen pack of chicken wings. This is from the same farm where I got the turkey. During spring and summer, we’re in a chicken CSA with them, and one week the chicken she had for me was a fair bit under-weight, so she threw in two of these little wing packages, and I put them in the freezer. Anyway, I thawed them, packed them with salt, garlic, and thyme, vacuum sealed them and refrigerated overnight, then rinsed well and re-packed with garlic, peppercorns, and some of the saved fat. Processed at 180F for 8 hours (per Thomas Keller’s recipe in Under Pressure
), and had a pack of chicken wings confit (seen here with half a package of Costco andouille).
Day before serving, a frozen turkey leg from last Thanksgiving went into the pressure cooker for 8 hours to produce stock. Meanwhile, ¾ of an old bag of supermarket Great Northern white beans went to soak overnight.
Next morning, I dug out my ingredients. Chicken wing confit, fat, stock, one last fat carrot from a couple weeks ago farm run, the end of floppy celery, two questionable plum tomatoes, an onion, the remainder of the Costco andouille package I used for a previous recipe in this competition (the Portuguese kale soup), the last two strips of bacon from a not-too-old package.
Dice the bacon and cook in some of the fat. Remove and sear the confit. Remove and sear the andouille. Remove and deglaze with minced onion and a bit of the stock. While all this has been going on, the tomatoes were pureed. Add the drained beans, 4 cups stock (I meant to add 3 and had to scoop off a cup later), the carrot and celery and the tomato puree and 2 bay leaves. Cover and cook 20 minutes.
Remove vegetables and bay leaves, add bacon and andouille, bail off a cup of excess liquid because I’m an idiot, and bake uncovered about 2 hours at 325F.
Break crust, lay confit on top, add back the bailed-off cup of stock mixture, and continue baking about 2 hours at 325F, breaking the crust every 30 minutes and once adding another 1/3 cup stock because it looked like it might be drying out.
Result: a pretty good take on cassoulet.
My only real negative here was that confit chicken wings taste great but fall to bits. They’re also too salty, I think because they have so much surface area compared to volume, so they absorb too much salt. Otherwise, pretty darn good cassoulet.
Budget: hard to calculate, really. If we figure that anything more than 2 weeks old is free, this was pretty much free; the tomatoes and the bacon might be more recent, but not by much. Definitely nothing was bought in the last week, and most of it has been in the freezer or pantry at least 6 months.