Bean Jar (Guernésiais: moussaettes au four; French: pot de haricots de Guernesey) is a local dish of the Channel Island of Guernsey. The traditional Guernsey Bean Jar has been around for centuries, and still proves popular today. It is a cassoulet-type bean dish.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernsey_Bean_Jar
A few weeks ago I shared my Jersey bean crock recipe. Guernsey is, of course, another island in the English Channel, and shares the tradition of hearty bean soup/stews, cooked overnight in the local bakery’s oven. There is, of course, much friendly local rivalry about who stole the recipe from who, and which island’s version is better. Of course, even within an island every family has their own recipe so it turns out a little different in every home.
Frankly, there’s not a whole lot of difference in the recipes. Jersey seems to maybe use a slightly wider variety of beans. Some things I read seemed to imply that one island uses pork trotters while the other uses beef shin, but both options were fairly equally represented across recipes for both versions, with pork being the predominant option in both cases. I think the biggest difference is that the Guernsey recipes predominantly called for beef stock, while chicken won out on Jersey.
Over all both recipes are quite simple- beans, meat, onion, carrot and some fresh herbs. I think Guernsey is my favorite between the two. The combination of beef stock and fresh rosemary take it over the top.
I created the recipe for quite a large batch- 15 servings was the goal. I intended to cook it in our slow cooker, but when I dumped the beans in there wasn’t room for the rest of the ingredients! I wound up following the oven version of my recipe, which worked wonderfully. Since I had intended to leave the beans in the crockpot overnight I wound up par cooking the beans and adding the rest of the ingredients and then refrigerating it overnight. When I got up in the morning I brought them back to a boil and then popped them in the oven. Five hours later when I came in from rebuilding the neighbor’s fence where we had some trees removed I had delicious beans ready. Some of my recent bean dishes have proved to be kind of heavy and unappetizing in the summer heat, but even on an 80 degree day these were delicious.
With that experience in mind, I’m cutting the recipe in half to share with you, so it should work in your medium to large sized crockpots.
In my post about Jersey bean crock I had mentioned that some recipes said to make sure you boil your beans for a while before putting them in the oven, and I wasn’t sure why, since four or five hours in the oven should be enough to soften them. My brother reminded me that most beans, but especially red kidney beans, contain toxins that break down in boiling water, but will remain in the beans if they aren’t brought to a high enough temperature. A couple of the recipes I looked at for this post actually gave that exact reason for par-cooking your beans. For the slow cooker recipe I put in to cook on high for a few hours until the beans are actually boiling, and then turn down to low for the remaining time. Since my batch was too big and I couldn’t test the slow cooker version I’m not sure that really works. If your crockpot doesn’t get hot enough to really bring things to a boil, you’ll need to start this on the stove and then transfer it to the slow cooker once the beans have boiled for a while. (That said, my very first recipe on this blog was 15-bean soup in the crockpot, which just threw the beans in the crockpot and let it do all the work, so you’re probably fine.)
Most of the slow cooker recipes I looked at said to cook these for at least 12 and up to 24 hours, so the 16 hour time on the slow cooker recipe is not a typo. I’m sure they will be edible several hours earlier, but given their history of overnight cooking as the baker’s oven cooled down, that long cook time makes sense, and probably amps up the flavor. If anyone gets around to trying this before I get a chance to try again in the crock-pot, let me know how the times I’ve given work out.
Guernsey Bean Jar
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 16 hours (slow cooker) or 6 hours (oven)
Total 6:15-16:15 Plus soaking time.
¾ lb. navy beans
⅝ lb. butter beans
2 large onions, diced
3 carrots, diced
1-2 pork trotters
1 lb. Ham Hock
¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 bay leaves
1-2 sprigs thyme
2 sprigs rosemary
1 ½ quarts Beef Stock
½ teaspoon salt
Water in place of stock
1-2 beef shanks in place of trotters
6 large potatoes, diced
1 ½ Tablespoons dried mixed herbs, in place of fresh
2 Tablespoons dried Marjoram
2-3 leeks, sliced
Pick over beans and cover with 3-4 inches of cool water. Leave to soak for at least 5 hours.
Drain the beans, and place in your slow cooker. Add onion, carrot, pork trotters or hocks, black pepper, bay leaves, thyme, rosemary and stock. If necessary add additional water so that there are a couple inches of liquid covering the beans.Cook on high for about 3 hours, until they are boiling nicely. Reduce heat to low and cook for another 13-14 hours. Check occasionally and add more boiling water if needed to keep everything well submerged until the last couple hours of cooking.
Alternatively, place your soaked beans in a pot cover with fresh water and bring to a boil. Cookfor about 30 minutes and then drain. Place beans in a bean crock or dutch oven and add remaining ingredients, and bake at 320F for about 5-6 hours. Check occasionally and add boiling water if needed to keep beans submerged.
During the last hour of cooking remove the trotters and pick the meat off the bones. Discard bones, skin and gristle and add the meat back to the beans. Add salt and adjust seasoning to taste.
Serve with baguettes and butter (Guernsey butter if you can get your hands on it).