A fabulously tasty feast for very little effort
I ate this Spanish dish of lamb and butter beans at a friend’s house near Valencia. The recipe was her mother’s and I’ve never come across anything quite like it again. I’ve substituted the original pears with seasonal apricots—I couldn’t help it, they looked too good to miss.
It’s a one pot wonder that delivers a fabulously tasty feast with very little effort. The beans can be home-cooked, or jars of Spanish butter beans will work equally well. Learn more about them in my article about New World beans.
250g butter beans, soaked overnight (or 1 large 660g jar of Spanish cooked beans)
1 bay leaf
1 x 1½kg-2kg leg of lamb
3 medium onions, cut into quarters
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
500ml vegetable stock
1 stick of cinnamon
1 tsp sweet paprika
250g waxy or new potatoes, cut into bite-sized dice
6 apricots, stoned and halved
200g green French beans (you could use runners), trimmed
Pre heat the oven to 160C. Drain the beans and place them in a pan of cold water with the bay leaf.
Bring the beans up to the boil, skimming off any froth with a ladle, then turn them down to a simmer and cook until tender (about an hour, maybe longer if the beans are older).
Meanwhile, season the lamb with salt and pepper, then brown it off on the hob in a large pan or, better still, the roasting pan with a couple of tbsp of olive oil.
Add the onions and allow those to colour a little too. Throw in the cloves of garlic, still over the heat, and as soon as you can smell them pour in the stock and add the cinnamon stick.
Sprinkle the paprika over the lamb (transfer to the roasting tin if you were using a pan) and then cover the tin snugly with an airtight tent of foil.
Put the dish in the oven for 2½ hours and then add the potatoes, the drained butter beans and apricots. Cover again and cook for another 30-45 mins, until the potatoes are cooked and the lamb is tender.
Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside to rest (use the foil to cover it). Add the green beans to the roasting dish and place it back in the oven for about 5 mins, until the green beans are cooked through.
Taste the juices around the beans and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper—you may even require a splash of lemon juice if the apricots were sweet.
Serve the lamb up in chunky slices with the beans, potatoes and the apricots (which will have almost collapsed into a sauce) and plenty of juice from the pan.
ALTERNATIVE: Try substituting the apricots with quarters of peeled pear or quince, adding the quince for the last hour of cooking.
Recipe: Jenny Chandler