Each town has its own special version of this legendary dish.
I have eliminated most of the fat by omitting the unsmoked bacon or salt pork normally used. I have also omitted the goose or duck fat that usually accompanies the traditional confit (preserved duck or goose.) The fresh duck that I use in the recipe can be skinned to remove all fat, if desired. The pork rind also found in other recipes has been omitted because it is not readily available in our markets. Also omitted are the bread crumbs normally added during the last hour of cooking to absorb the excess fat and to form a crust. Because I have omitted so much fat from the recipe, I have dubbed in maigre, meaning “thin.”
Although the purist may be skeptical of my omissions, I hope that you will consider the ease of preparation, the healthier, lowered fat content, and the wonderful flavors of the finished recipe when passing final judgment on my version.
The preparation of the cassoulet is divided into two procedures. The beans are actually the recipe for Haricots a la Bretonne and should be made a day or two in advance. And the cassoulet itself should be made one or two days ahead of time (an ideal dish for entertaining), because it tastes best when reheated.
From--Richard Grausman--At Home with the French Classics.