My original intention was to call this “medieval beans and bacon”, but as usual when dealing with medieval recipes, particularly the dishes of the common people, they’re often a little short on details if they exist at all. Most of the recipes I found were modern interpretations that seemed to me to perhaps be written by people who didn’t necessarily understand medieval cooking methods, and/or were adapting to use modern time saving inventions like canned beans.
Based on cooking methods for most of the classic bean dishes in modern European cuisines, which tend to include the pork with the beans for a long slow simmer, I don’t think that the recipe I am sharing here is all that authentic. Given modern differences between what we call bacon in America versus England, I’m not even sure what cut of pig “bacon” referred to back then.
Most common varieties of beans in use today are native to South America, so were unknown in medieval Europe. I thought I was using an old world bean when I put some lima beans to soak, but a quick Google search now tells me I was wrong and they are also a new world variety. Of course bacon is delicious with nearly any type of bean, so that was fine.
So I won’t call this medieval. It’s just a quick and easy dish to make some plain beans into a tasty dish (How healthy it is is another question- feel free to drain some of the excess fat off before adding your onions if you like). I do, however, include a couple of medieval spices in the optional ingredients. Long pepper is a variety related to black pepper that was commonly used in medieval Europe. Poudre douce is a sweet spice blend- you can find recipes for it on the web. Use of spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves in savory dishes was much more common in that era. I haven’t yet tried them out myself, but if you’re looking for medieval flavors they are a starting point.
And of course, true to medieval recipes, I have not included measurements for spices and seasonings- season to taste.
Beans and Bacon
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes with precooked beans
2 thick slices smoked bacon or pancetta
1 small onion, minced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced.
2 cups cooked beans
Salt to taste
Black eyed peas
saffron, bloomed in a little hot water.
long pepper, ground
1 head of curley endive, chopped
Cut bacon or pancetta into lardons. Place in a pan over medium heat and cook until fat has rendered and meat is cooked to your desired doneness. Remove from pot and reserve.
Add onion and garlic to fat and sauté until golden. Add cooked beans, bacon, and a little broth. Cook until heated through. Season to taste and serve.