I am not going to brag, much, but Sue Kelley and I grew these sweet Tarbais beans this summer in the much maligned potager at Camont. We got just enough of a harvest for perhaps two medium size cassoulets, one for now to share with you all, and one for later this winter when the Garonne River Valley damp has seeped into every pore of the stone walls.
Choose your bean for texture- creamy, thin skin and flavorful, and size- and they should be large enough to stand up to bites of sausage or chunks of duck. Buy fresh in season or dried from good sources; an eight year old bean doesn't taste like much. And don't get lost in how strange, complicated and time consuming a cassoulet sounds. Learn to cook your beans well and the rest will fall in place. Ste. Paula (Wolfert) gives a fine account of tracking down THE Cassoulet in her essential "The Cooking of Southwest France". Having had the pleasure of eating in Daguin's kitchen for many years, her description of the famous Fava bean cassoulet made me smile remembering those meaty fresh favas, peeled and stewed with nutty duck confit. A thoroughly Gascon solution to winning any cassoulet concours hands down.
So choose your beans wisely.