My mission: discover first-hand if one woman can prepare a grand French dinner in a small kitchen with only a cat to guide her. To find out, I armed myself with the Blue Apron Fireside Feast box, the biggest pan I could find, and the sharpest chef’s knife in my possession. With all of my tools at the ready, I set out to make duck cassoulet, garlic bread, and biscotti.
All the cooking instructions were packed up like a case file, which made me feel especially prepared for the assignment I was taking on: cooking the Fireside Feast by myself. The ingredients all looked really nice, and I received the biggest bag of kale I’ve ever seen.
I was particularly excited about making these dishes because there were a few ingredients that I’ve never worked with before, like duck (sous vide or otherwise). Having duck that was mostly cooked for me already was a nice way to enter the waters. The box also came with creme anglaise, and I’m still not totally sure what it is, but I do know that it is delicious.
The first preparation step was the most daunting. Before getting started, I cleaned my entire kitchen and cleared as much counter space as possible in my tiny Brooklyn apartment. I made the feast by myself under the supervision of my cat Susan, and with all the steps broken out clearly, it felt very manageable. I’m made to make this all in one day. A little glass of wine and some podcasts (shout out to Normal Gossip) were the perfect company.
I started out by making the biscotti since the recipe card says they can be cooked ahead of time. The most difficult part of this recipe was not eating the biscotti after its first bake, because at that point they’re just like a big, hot chocolate chip cookie. (I failed at this and did, in fact, eat a half-done biscotti.)
After the biscotti were fully baked I started out on the cassoulet. Cooking the duck was an incredibly easy and fulfilling process: none of the fuss of sous vide-ing and making sure it’s fully cooked, and all of the joy of making a perfectly crispy skin. Once that was done, I got started on the beans and kale. The hardest part there was finding a cast iron big enough to fit roughly 8 cups of kale, but thankfully that cooked down pretty quickly. Then the final step was to finish in the oven to let all those flavors get to know each other.
If you have a fancy serving vessel, this would be the time to break it out! My partner and I are getting married later this year, so we’ll have to wait and see if anyone gets us one off the registry. I did bust out our cat wearing glasses plate for the garlic bread. We’re a garlic bread household first and foremost, so this dish deserved some special treatment. Having 2 loaves for ourselves made this a huge exercise in self-discipline, but we managed to stop ourselves after having 3 slices each (small victories).
As for the cassoulet, I have personally never had more delicious beans in my life. The sous vide pork belly brings so much fattiness and richness to them, plus they get imbued with the duck flavor from having it cooked on top of them. The duck itself is decadent and abundant. A duck leg per person is more than enough. With the beans, garlic bread, and salad we ended up splitting one between the two of us.
I had big plans for my friends to come over to share the feast, but unfortunately, covid got in the way, so instead I ended up putting some “Get Well Soon” cassoulet in to-go boxes. They were a huge hit!
The biscotti and peppermint chocolate dip are a perfect grand finale. I recommend individual dipping bowls for each person and having no shame taking a sip of the remaining chocolate dip.
Overall, this was an incredibly satisfying meal, and not too difficult to make. The partially cooked ingredients made this elaborate dinner possible, even with a limited cooking space. Make sure you set aside a good chunk of time, clean as you go, take bites to treat yourself along the way, and enjoy!
Try the Fireside Feast for yourself! Order your meal of duck cassoulet, garlic bread, salad, biscotti, and peppermint-chocolate dipping sauce without a subscription on the Blue Apron Market. Serves 4-6, $159.99
This post was contributed by Paige Snider. Paige is a social media manager, tinned fish aficionado, and mentor to two live-in hairless cats.