August 2nd, 2009


A Glut of Beans and a Cold Summers Evening, Comfort Food!

It’s the beginning of August and the weather is not good. It’s been dreary,cloudy and simply cold for the past two or three weeks. I need a proper summer to function. I suppose you can take the girl from the Southern hemisphere but you cannot take the Southern hemisphere from the girl…something like that. It’s appropriate in more than one way, as I’m still blessed after all these years with my very distinctive accent! Say no more!

We have had a glut of runner and bobby beans and bless my mother she has kindly removed the stringy edges and sliced one kilo of runners and topped and sliced the bobby beans. We referred to my grandmothers recipe book for an old family favourite sweet and sour curried beans, the dish the sliced bobbies were destined for.

The runners ended up in another family favourite, oven roasted shoulder of lamb with roasted runner beans and potatoes. This is comfort food at it’s best. Nothing fancy all you need is time, a glut of beans and a mum! This dish is the Lancashire hot pot of South Africa, if Nigel Haworth had the guts to make the hot pot on telly then I can share this traditional dish with you!

I did adapt the dish slightly, as mum normally pot roasts the lamb and beans, but as I did not have a large enough casserole dish, the roasting tray had to do.

As you can imagine it’s not as good as mums cooking, I think I must have forgotten something, perhaps a glug of extra love! Mum was telling me all her secrets for the success of this dish. She says the meat should have a lovely bit of fat, so lamb is the best choice of meat. Lots of freshly ground black pepper brings out the earthy bean flavour and last but not least a generous amount of chopped onion. It’s perfect for a cold summers evening!


  • 1.4kg shoulder of lamb
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 1kg finely sliced runner beans
  • 3 white onions
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 700ml light chicken or lamb stock
  • 1tbs unsalted butter

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Remove the bone from the lamb shoulder.

Make a dry spice rub with the ground coriander, cumin, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub the dry spice mix all over the de-boned shoulder of lamb.

Crush the garlic and spread half of the garlic on the inside of the lamb, roll the lamb up in a spiral keeping the fat on the outside.

Use kitchen string to tie and secure the lamb shoulder. Heat a non stick frying pan and brown the lamb until golden brown all over, stud the fat with the cloves and weave two bay leaves under the string.

Place the lamb in a deep oven tray and pour 350ml of the stock over. Cover the tray with foil and cook in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.

While the lamb is roasting peel and dice the onions. Use the same frying pan that was used for the lamb and saute the onions and the rest of the crushed garlic until golden in the lamb fat. Set aside.

Wash, de-string and finely slice the beans. Peel the potatoes and cut them in large even size pieces.

Once the lamb is ready remove the lamb from the tray, add the saute onions, sliced beans and prepared potatoes, season well. Add the rest of the stock and return the lamb to the tray. Cover again with foil and return the dish to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Remove the foil, stir the beans and potatoes, increase the heat oven to 200°C for a further 30 minutes.

Remove the lamb from the tray, remove the string and leave to rest for 5 minutes.While the lamb is resting ,place the roasting tray on the cooker on a high heat and reduce the liquid until it becomes slightly sticky, stir in a tablespoon of cold unsalted butter and adjust the seasoning if needed.

Spoon the roasted potatoes and beans onto a serving platter, slice the lamb in six even thick slices and lay them on top, serve.

Serves 6

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2 Comments to “A Glut of Beans and a Cold Summers Evening, Comfort Food!”

  1. There is something about preparing runner beans that takes me back. My mum used to have a gadget that we’d run the beans through to slice them thin. It’s a shame you’re having to have comfort food now but I hear the weather is destined to improve around about 26 August as I land at Heathrow!

  2. Eleanor Anderson says:

    We have done a version of this with boned rolled pork shoulder for many many years. I use Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering the Art of French cooking for casseroled boned rolled shoulder of pork, but for the dry marinade use 1 tsp of salt per pound of pork, quatre epices (which I buy in France and is the secret to the taste of this dish) lots of mashed garlic and fresh sage. I marinade the pork (sans skin) over night, sear and cook it in its own juices about 1/2 hour per pound. About 45 minutes to one hour from the end, I put in whole carrots (from our garden) potatoes and whole onions. We then make what we call ‘Esther’s beans’–named after Esther who showed us how to make them 30 years ago in Switzerland when she had pick a glut of over ready beans. Lots of sauted onion (as you said), salt & pepper, olive oil. Turn the beans in this for about 5 minutes, then put the lid on and braise in their own juices for about an hour.(You could add some of the cooking liquid from the pork.) You can add tomatoes to this as well. Serve with the pork and other veg. P.S. About a year ago, Heston Blumenthal talked about making his own freshly ground ‘quatre epices’ in a Guardian article. I am sure this is probably better, but shaking the spices out of the bottle is certainly easier. These are the spices French charcuterie butchers use.

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