Thursday, 11 March 2010

Languedoc Roussillon – Haricot Beans

In the past, the white beans used in cassoulet were grown in the Lauragais section of Languedoc, and the Lauragais also furnished the goose and duck. Haricot beans arrived in France from the New World in the 16th century. When Catherine de’ Medici, the future wife of Henry II of France, disembarked at Marseilles in 1553, she took out from her trousseau a bag of “fagioli” (the beans later known as “haricots”). The name Haricot comes from the Mexican name for the beans “ayacot”.

All "true" cassoulets are made in the Languedoc region with white beans
and the Tarbais Haricot bean is a popular choice. It was planted on the plain of Tarbes in the Hautes-Pyerenees at the beginning of the 18th century, at the same time as maize by Monsignor de Poudenx, Bishop of the Tarbes diocese. The Tarbais bean was the first French bean to be granted of Label Rouge, in 1997 and are famed for their extremely thin skin, which makes them easier to cook and gives them an unbeatable, delicate flavour. They don’t burst during cooking or turn to mush on your plate, but when the time comes, they melt in your mouth to deliver their creamy texture.

Leg of Lamb with Haricot Beans

1 kg fresh Haricot Beans

1 leg of lamb

300g fatty bacon

200g fresh pork rind

1 carrot

1 onion studded with cloves
tomato purée

bouquet garni

3 garlic cloves

1 onion

1 bunch of parsley, thyme

2 tbsp goose fat

breadcrumbs, salt, pepper.

Put the Haricot beans, bacon, pork rind tied in parcels, carrot, the
clove-studded onion, the bouquet garni and the garlic into a stew pot. Add enough water to cover the beans. Simmer, allowing to bubble gently, for an hour. Chop the other onion and the parsley. Remove the pork rinds and bacon. Fry them in the goose fat with the chopped onion and parsley. Add tomato purée and the haricots. Check the seasoning. Dust with crumbled thyme.

Rub a shallow oven dish with the garlic, then pour in the bean mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
Pour the goose fat over. Bake for 1 hour until golden. Meanwhile, rub the leg of lamb with the garlic and some thyme. Roast to suit your taste. Serve accompanied by the gratin of Haricot Beans.


Susan said...

What a wonderful and inviting meal. Wish I could sit down to this at this moment. Thank you, as always, for sharing all the history.

Pam said...

Your dinner sounds exquisite! I have never tried roasting lamb but, with the beans I am sure I would love it. I'm not even sure I've ever seen Haricot beans in a store here so will have to check that out. It love the addition of the pork rind and bacon. Yum!!! It's a keeper! Thank you!

Sue said...

Thanks Susan and Pam! I had a quick look and othe names for Haricots are Pea Beans and Navy Beans. Apparently they are the beans that are used in tins of Baked Beans and in Senate Bean Soup!

Susan said...

Sue, we will spending 8 days in the Auvergne near Vichy in May. Do you suppose we will find a lot of lamb on the menus and in the market places? That would be a real treat.

Sue said...

Susan, you should find quite a few specialities with lamb in the Auvergne - look out for 7 hr cooked lamb!