This shortcut Cassoulet takes time out of the making without sacrificing any of the flavor!
In a 5 ½ quart (or larger) pot or French/Dutch oven, liquefy the duck fat at medium heat.
Place the chicken thighs skin down in the bottom of the pan. Allow to cook for 8 minutes on Medium to Medium High, periodically checking to be sure the skin is not sticking to the pan (if it is gently slide a heat-proof spatula underneath to free the skin).
Add the sausages to the same pan (be careful of hot fat splattering!) and brown on each side (approximately 3-4 minutes total). Remove and set aside (can be added to the plate with the chicken)
Add the bacon to the pan. Sauté to render the fat only (about 3 minutes). NOTE: The fat will turn a gray color and be more translucent though the bacon will still be supple and pliable. Remove with a heatproof slotted spoon, allowing excess fat to drain back into the pan before setting the bacon aside.
Add the onions to the pan and sauté over medium-high heat scraping all the browned bits from the bottom and sides of the pan. Sauté until the onions begin to turn translucent but are not limp. TIP: if you allow the onions to sit before stirring they will pick up more of the pan drippings.
Add the carrots, celery, parsley, herbes de Provence, beans and chicken stock; stir to combine.
Add the bacon to the pot; stir to combine.
Insert the chicken thighs and sausage into the stew so they are covered.
In a small bowl combine the bread crumbs and diced garlic. Sprinkle it evenly over the stew.
Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, periodically pressing the bread crumbs into the stew which will help thicken it.
Place the stew underneath the broiler to slightly brown the top crumbs and remove from oven.
Allow to sit for a few minutes, cut sausages into 2 inch pieces stirring them back into the stew, and serve. The stew is even more flavorful the second day too!
*Duck fat may be purchased from gourmet or specialty food stores, or online (I bought mine from Amazon.com). It lasts a long time and can be a great substitute for sautéing to add different flavor.
**I suggest checking with a butcher for garlic sausage (I found some at Whole Foods in the butcher department). If they are not available a kielbasa may be substituted or see what you butcher suggests.
+To make Soft Breadcrumbs place chunks of baguette in food processor, chopper or strong blender and pulse until they form large crumbs.
To make the cooking even faster, the vegetables may be prepared the day prior to cooking and stored sealed in the refrigerator until cooking is ready to begin!