Flageolet, masculine noun (un flageolet, le flageolet, des flageolets) = bean (pronounced fla-jo-lay, the j being soft, not like the J of Jack, but more dj or zh; stress slightly on the first syllable).
Bean as in dried green baby lima bean, not a fresh green bean. Have a look at the picture below. They turn from pale green to beige when cooked. Flageolets are a staple winter vegetable all over France, all over the world probably in some form or other. They are often used to accompany lamb, either roasted or stewed.
Un flajeolet is also a small flute (the suffix -et usually denoting a diminutive), the origin of which is the mediaeval flajol = a flute, which in turn comes from the common Latin flare = to blow.
“Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot!”
So now we all know exactly why these beans are called flageolets.
Another more colloquial word for this type of bean is fayot. This comes from the Occitan fayol or faiol, and from the Latin phaseolus, meaning bean. Fayot also means a “teacher’s pet”, or someone who seeks to ingratiate himself. And I could explain the origin of that, but I think I’ll stop there for today.
My recipe is collier d’agneau aux flageolets (stewed neck of lamb with beans).
Neck of lamb is cheap(ish) and plentiful, in France anyway. And it is delicious. It falls off the bone after slow cooking. This recipe can of course be done in a pressure cooker, but I’m not good at those so if you wish to do so, I’ll let you convert what needs to be converted yourself.
For 4 people you will need:
- 500gr dried beans
- 8 slices of neck of lamb
- 1 very large onion or 2 medium
- a bayleaf
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 small can of peeled plum tomatoes, or tomato pulp, or frozen home made tomato sauce, or a small quantity of concentrated tomato sauce
- 2 litres of water
- 2 stock cubes
- some chopped fresh or frozen mint
- a little oil for frying
Day 1: put the beans to soak in a large bowl of cold water. This is the most difficult part of the recipe! It’s so hard to remember to do it in time.
- Peel and chop the onion.
- In a large cast iron pan, heat a small amount of oil and fry the slices of meat on both sides for a minute or two.
- Remove the meat to a plate and fry the onion quickly.
- Put the meat back into the pan with the bayleaf, the drained beans, the crushed garlic, the tomato and the water (if it doesn’t all fit into your saucepan, you can add water little by little as the beans absorb the liquid). Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
- Add the stock cubes, stir to dissolve, simmer for 10 more minutes. Do not add stock cubes or salt at the outset, this makes pulses tough.
- Serve in deep plates, the beans but only a little juice, topped with a slice or two of lamb. Sprinkle with chopped mint.
Any left over beans and juice can be blended to make a wonderful soup. If you only have juice left, dilute it a bit if it is thick and cook a little pearl barley in the broth.