Breaking up the Crust
give you an idea of what it looked like when it was done.
With an afternoon spent doing other things, I turned the oven down to 300 and just let the thing bake, uncovered, for another 3 hours. Every hour I brought it out and pushed the crusty top layer into the juice. When I was getting ready to take it out to the table, with 5 people waiting, I took a taste and almost fell over backwards. The crust, which behaved itself and stayed just on top, was delcious and chewy and tasted like duck cracklings, and had a balance and a tang that went perfectly with the beans. There was plenty of juice left in the part underneath, and I spooned each person a part of the crust, some beans and meat, and then made another pass to add some juices. The couenne had dissolved and had mingled with the beans and meat. It was heavenly. Luckily we had five people there, otherwise we would have all eaten more of our share and felt guilty. We served a St. Emillion 2005 with it and followed it with a salad, local cheeses, and then dessert with a 2006 Bourgogne Aligote. It was really a very nice dinner.
One thing that really made a difference was that I used that mushroom stock. The mushroom stock began as duck stock, was reduced quite a bit, then went through the transformation with the wild mushrooms, reducing it a bit further. It was quite a concntrated stock to begin with. It gave a wonderful flavor to the beans. I will use the couenne again for this type of dish.