Flageolet (fla-ja-‘lā) beans originated in France where they are revered for their subtle flavor, creamy texture and ability to stand up to robust cooking. They are traditionally paired with lamb in the springtime and frequently used in cassoulet – a hearty stew of various meats and white beans.
In France, flageolets can be found canned, semi-dried and fresh beginning in April. Occasionally, fresh flageolets, and other shelling beans, can be found in California farmer’s markets in the late summer. Recently these beans have become available across the U.S. from purveyors such as Rancho Gordo.
I prepared these beans to complement a lamb dish served at a dinner party held by close friends during the recent Memorial Day weekend. Most recipes for flageolet, and dried beans, in general, call for soaking the legumes in cold-water overnight to rehydrate them before cooking at a near boil on the stovetop. Based on a tip I received at Claudine, I have been foregoing the long soaking period and have been cooking beans gently in a slow cooker, or crock-pot. This method produces beans that are tender with taut, intact skins.
This recipe relies on the use of fresh herbs rather than the addition of salt pork, bacon or other forms of pork fat. Diluted meat broth is used, but vegetable broth is a good substitute.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the plated dish because the beans were transported to our friend’s house as a contribution to a larger menu. I’ll add an appropriate photograph of the finished product in the future. In the meantime, here is a stand-in shot of the lamb dish these beans were served with.
For the flageolet
- 1 pound of dried Rancho Gordo, or other, flageolet beans
- 2 medium shallots finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 2 tablespoons everyday extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups of homemade brodo (packaged chicken or vegetable broth can be substituted)
- 3 sprigs fresh oregano
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary
- 3 sprigs fresh flat leaf parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 preserved lemon, chopped (A recipe for preserved lemons can be found here.)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
For the lemon oil (optional)
- 1 Eureka lemon
- 1 cup of everyday extra virgin olive oil
For the flageolet
- Clean and pick over the beans to remove any debris
- Place the beans in a 6-quart saucepan. Add water to cover by 1 inch.
- On the stovetop bring the water and the beans to a boil and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for one hour until cool.
- Drain and rinse the beans in cold water.
- Sauté the shallots olive oil on medium heat until transparent. Add the minced garlic and sauté 2 more minutes. Don’t allow the garlic to burn.
- Add the shallot and garlic mixture along with the soaked beans to a slow cooker, or crock-pot with broth and water to cover by 1 inch.
- Prepare a bouquet garni by tying oregano, rosemary and parsley together with a length of string so these can be easily removed after cooking. Add the bouquet garni along with bay leaves and preserved lemon to the slow cooker.
- Cook beans in the slow cooker for about 4 hours checking frequently for tenderness. In the last hour of cooking season with salt and pepper. Taste frequently and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove bay leaves and bouquet garni before serving.
For the lemon oil
- With a sharp paring knife, peel the zest of one lemon into strips. Reserve one strip for garnish.
- In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of extra virgin olive oil to a simmer. Avoid bringing the oil to a boil.
- Add lemon peel to the simmering olive oil and let cook for 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and remove the lemon zest used in the cooking process. Trim the reserved zest in to fine strips of equal size. Place the lemon oil and lemon zest garnish in a small serving dish, or jar. Serve with the flageolet as an optional condiment.