Monday, 7 November 2016

White Beans with Celery & Cream

I found the original for this recipe in "Good Things" by the eminent British food author of the 1970s, Jane Grigson. She describes it as "A delicious example of the elegance of French vegetable cookery". Certainly, it's quite different from the kinds of things that tend to occur to me to do with beans. Nutmeg? Cream? Beans? Well, okay then.

Naturally, I meddled. She served the celery quickly sautéed in butter and scattered over the top rather then cooked in with the beans. Usually I like my vegetables crunchy, but I am not a fan of the combination of very soft and very firm textures right next to each other so I stewed mine in with the beans. There should be about the same volume of celery as beans. I also used about half the amount of butter that she called for, and a lower fat cream. I still think this is plenty rich. A parsley garnish adds colour and flavour, but is not absolutely required.

I would be very inclined to mash and thin any leftovers with a little broth and serve it as soup. You could also make this all winter and into the spring once celery is gone by replacing it with celeriac.

4 servings
45 minutes prep time, not including pre-cooking the beans

White Beans with Celery & Cream

Cook the Beans:
1 cup (225 grams; 1/2 pound) white beans
2 litres water
1 teaspoon salt

Pick over the beans and put them in a fairly large pot with the water. Bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them soak for several hours. Change the water if you like, add the salt, and bring them back to a boil. Simmer for about an hour, until tender but still fairly firm.

This can be done a day in advance.

Finish the Beans:
3 or 4 stalks of celery
1/4 cup butter
a good scrape of nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 or 3 tablespoons lemon juice OR balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup 10% cream
a little chopped parsley to garnish

Wash, trim and chop the celery. Heat the butter in a large skillet, and gently cook the celery in it for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans, along with about half a cup of the cooking water. Cook for another 5 or 10 minutes, until the cooking water has reduced to the point of almost being gone. Repeat with more cooking water another 2 times, letting it reduce until you are left with a fairly thick sauce each time.

Season with a scrape of nutmeg - don't over-do it - and some pepper. Add a little more salt if you feel the beans need it. Add the lemon juice, and mix in well, then add the cream. Continue to simmer very gently until the sauce has thickened once more. You can leave it creamy enough to require a spoon, but I cooked it until it was thick enough to be eaten with a fork.


MMeadows said...

I love how this sounds! And the plate too :)

Ferdzy said...

Thanks! That bowl was Dads... he had some nice pottery.