- Place the beans in a large bowl and add cold water to cover. Soak for about 4 hours or overnight.
- Insert the cloves in an onion.
- Drain the beans, reserving the soaking water. Place the beans in a large saucepan with 2 litres (4 cups) fresh cold water, the salt pork, onion, carrots, 4 cloves of garlic and the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours. Drain and set aside. Dice the carrots. Set aside.
- Finely chop the remaining onions and garlic.
- In another saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions, garlic and tomatoes in the duck fat. Ladle in about 1.5 litres (6 cups) reserved soaking water (about 6 ladlefuls). Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour. Add the sausages and duck legs. Bring back to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the sausages. Slice and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet, brown the lardons. Drain and set aside.
- With the rack in the middle position, preheat the broiler.
- Layer the beans, lardons, vegetable mixture, diced carrots and duck legs in a large, ovenproof earthenware baking dish. Top with sausage slices and dust with breadcrumbs. Broil until the breadcrumbs are golden.
When I visited southwestern France last summer, I was fortunate enough to have the chance to visit the market and cook with Martine Defruyt, the owner of Charme et douceur de Rosiès and a cassoulet specialist.