Braised Lamb Shoulder with Flageolet Beans Recipe

Epaule d'Agneau Confite et Flageolets

[Epaule d'Agneau Confite et Flageolets]

Spring lamb is the traditional centerpiece of Easter Sunday menus in France: the agneau pascal symbolizes the sacrifice of the innocent, and the breeding cycles mean it is at its best this time of year, conveniently enough.

My family isn’t religious at all and the only thing we’ve ever commemorated at Easter is the invention of chocolate, but because Catholic traditions are so deeply rooted in France, they’re an integral part of the country’s culture, regardless of one’s beliefs.

Easter inspirations were thus on my mind when friends from San Francisco came to dinner late last week, so I decided to serve them a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with a side of beans, lamb’s favorite playmates.

The lamb shoulder was ordered from Jacky the butcher (I requested that he leave the central bone in for flavor), rubbed with olive oil and dried herbs, and plopped in the cocotte and in the oven to reflect on the meaning of life (or, more amusingly, The Meaning of Liff) for four hours, a glass of wine in hand.

As for the beans, I had initially planned to serve the Rolls Royce of beans, but because I hadn’t planned far enough in advance to buy them at G.Detou, I had to look in my neighborhood, and found them at such an exorbitant price that I was tempted to lecture the shop owner about Greed, and had he not seen Seven?

Instead, I turned to the closest organic shop, where the young and friendly attendant seems to be munching on something every time I walk in (I have no grudge against gluttony), and picked up a bag of good-looking and more reasonably priced flageolets verts from Beauce.

The beans were cooked in the most straightforward way, simply simmered with onions in my second cocotte (I don’t know what I’d do without these two) and by the time they were done, the lamb was copper brown and spoon-tender, the juices and wine reduced to a syrup, and the cloves of garlic turned to butter in their papery sheaths.

Epaule d’Agneau Confite aux Herbes de Provence

- One shoulder of lamb, central bone still in, about 1.5 kg (3 1/3 pounds)
- Olive oil
- 2 to 3 tablespoons herbes de Provence (a mix of dried thyme, rosemary, basil, and marjoram)
- Half a head of garlic
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- Salt, pepper

Serves 4 to 6.

Coat the meat lightly with olive oil and rub it with the herbs to cover all sides. Wrap tightly in plastic (or return to the butcher’s paper wrapper), and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Remove the meat from the fridge half an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F). Separate the garlic into individual cloves, but leave each clove in its own skin.

Place the meat in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid — a cast-iron cocotte is ideal. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, place the garlic around it, and pour the wine into the pot. Cover and slip into the oven.

Cook for 4 hours, flipping the meat and basting it with its juices every hour or so. If the juices run a bit low — this may happen if the lid of your pot is not perfectly tight — pour in a little more wine or water. The meat is ready when it is dark brown and very tender. Serve with flageolet beans (recipe below).

Flageolets

- 300 grams (10.5 ounces) dried flageolets beans (substitute the smallest dried white beans you can find)
- Olive oil
- 2 onions, peeled and sliced
- Stock or 1 bouillon cube
- Salt, pepper

Serves 4 to 6.

Soak the beans overnight in twice their volume of water. Rinse and drain.

Heat a little olive oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot. Add the beans and onions and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly, until the onions are soft.

Pour in cold stock (or cold water plus one bouillon cube) to cover, bring to a simmer, and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the beans are tender but still holding their shape. Season with salt 30 minutes into the cooking, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper just before serving.

Cooking/baking time: 4 h

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  • http://www.ceresandbacchus.com Mary

    I wanted to roast a leg of lamb for Easter, but my husband insists on grilling it (butterflied). He believes that the spring sacrifice needs to involve flames. As far as the sins go, I’m partial to gluttony, lust and sloth. They make for the best weekends.

    I have a question about your roast and your beans, wouldn’t it make for better beans if you cooked them with the roast so they could soak up some of the lovely ‘jus’?

  • http://baixagastronomia.blogspot.com Mar

    Clotilde, I really love your blog… (not a too damn original thing to say, I know, but I do!)
    As I live in a stamp sized flat with a microscopic kitchen, your lovely recipe wouldn’t fit in my toaster oven. But I’ve been wondering for a while if I could cook one in a crockpot and I’ll try it next week with this very same recipe…

  • http://www.theinadvertentgardener.com Genie

    Clotilde, I’ve been craving lamb after not cooking any for Easter, and I have some flageolet beans at home from SeedSavers.org that I bought but haven’t used yet — your post is so well-timed! I’m looking forward to giving this recipe a whirl, perhaps as soon as this weekend. The weather’s turned snowy and nasty again here in Iowa, and suddenly this type of long-cooking dish seems just perfect all over again. Spring salads? Not yet!

  • http://www.monikakorngut.com/main.htm Monika Korngut

    I love lamb for Easter. This sounds like a delicious recipe.

    This year was the first time I didn’t spend Easter with my family but all our friends got together and made a delicious pot-luck dinner. Not traditional but it was wonderful nevertheless.

  • http://inpraiseofsardines.typepad.com/blogs/ Brett

    So simple, so gorgeously melt-in-the-mouth eat-with-a-spoon fall apart tender. I can’t recall when I’ve had such juicy, wonderfully prepared lamb, Clotilde. Truly the perfect dish for the season, especially accompanied by spring green flageolets. Merci beaucoup to you and Maxence for your warm hospitality and a lovely evening.

  • http://bluekitchen.wordpress.com Terry B

    Clotilde–Lamb is one of my absolute favorites. There are lamb chops in my fridge right now waiting to be cooked tonight.

    And the flageolets epitomize the best of French cooking to me: A few well chosen ingredients combined simply and perfectly. Excellent!

  • http://dailyunadventures.com Katerina

    I totally didn’t get it together to cook Lamb this Easter, as you say I only worshiped the chocolate bunny. But this looks good enough to make without any excuse, I also love Lamb. I am very jealous about your cocotte, all my cast iron’s are rip off cheapos.

  • http://topgrubs.com topgrubs

    I am crazy for Spring lamb, specially in France. Last spring I had an amazing Spring lamb dish at Restaurant Guy Savoy in Paris…wow, mind blowing! Recipe sound great. I myself like the caramelization of pan roasting the meat in the begining stage on the stove top, then slipping in a low oven, but with Spring lamb you cant go wrong.

  • http://cozypan.com home cook

    Wow, I totally love this blog. It”s so clean, professional looking, and I love the recipes to be found here! You totally have a new reader!

  • http://elegantsufficiency.typepad.com Stephanie

    I cooked lamb shoulder over Easter also… used a Spanish recipe with thyme and smoked paprika as the key flavour notes and it was lovely, but the melting texture that I wanted eluded me. Will try the recipe again using a cocotte…

  • http://thestonesoup.com jules

    i’m a big fan of lamb shoulder…so much more economical than a leg and when slow cooked like this..just delicious. love the simple accompaniment of the beans

  • http://www.day2dayme.blogspot.com Y

    Hello!

    I found your blog in a magazine whilst travelling on a plane. It was called Sterling issue 03.

    You have a fantastic blog, I love food!

  • http://www.sevenspoons.net tara

    How funny the world works; it was not 10 minutes ago that my husband requested I make lamb soon. He had asked for the 7-hour leg of lamb from Anthony Bourdain, but I do believe he will not mind when I substitute this recipe instead. My cocotte will surely appreciate the full belly!

  • http://lafilleduconsul.blogspot.com/ delphine

    Ok, c’est pas hyper original, l’agneau à Pâques, mais ce que c’est bon!!!

  • Christine G

    Hi everyone!

    I’ve nominated this blog as Best Food Blog. Please go here and cast your votes!

  • http://www.lindamathieu.com Linda Mathieu

    I totally forgot to make lamb for Easter this year. I guess it isn’t too late to do it now. I love the lamb with those beans. I haven’t priced them yet so I may be in for a shock. It’s so hot here in Paris today-over 80 degrees as you know-that I hate to turn on my oven. Maybe I’ll do them the osso bucco way on top of the stove.

  • http://www.merisi.blogspot.com Merisi’s Vienna

    I never dared to cook lamb’s shoulder, for fear of it being to fatty. I did, for the first time, roast a leg of lamb with the bone in (had to smile when I read Mary’s comment about her husband and the butterflied leg of lamb – exactly the way we did it back home in Washington DC *smile*). Not having read your post – this was on Easter Sunday – I had the temperature too high, at 300 F, which meant the leg was ready 2 hours before dinner time. Covering it with alu-foil and reheating it shortly before serving only made it more tender, thank heaven.
    Next year, 250 F it will be – thank you for the instructions!

  • http://chocolateandzucchini.com clotilde

    Mary – I didn’t cook the beans with the roast because they need a fair amount of liquids to cook and they might have soaked up all of the juices, leaving nothing for the roast. I also thought it was easier to control how long they cooked if I did it separately.

    Mar – I’m sure this would work fine in a slow-cooker — do report back if you try it!

  • victoria

    I don’t eat meat, but I made this recipe for my husband the other night. He loves lamb, and pronounced it “freakishly good.” I was even able to find flageolet beans, which he loved with the lamb.

    But the butcher wouldn’t sell me lamb shoulder. He said, “You won’t be able to carve it. There’s way too much gristle and fat. Let me sell you a lamb shank instead.”

  • christine

    quick question, can you do this with a boneless leg of lamb – instead of shoulder? and can i do it my creuset, as i don’t own a cocette (yet!)
    kind regards!

  • Jenn

    I did the lamb in a Le Creuset that belongs to my boyfriend’s landlord’s wife just this evening. It was lovely, cooked to falling apart in a French Sauv Blanc that the wonderful man recommended when I explained that I was a grad student and therefore poor, but still a lover of tasty wines. I served it with a simple polenta (or corn grits) and glazed green beans. Simply wonderful. Thank you for the excellent recipe for lamb shoulder, which is usually much cheaper than beef at my store.

  • Lisa

    Hi, I made this yesterday when friends came over. It has to be the easiest way of feeding 6 people EVER! Just a green salad to follow. The jus was delicious, melting garlic cloves, reduced wine meat juices, sticky herbs, and all assembled while making a morning cup tea! Truly outstanding. Now I just have to persuade my husband to make it his ‘signature dish’ and I don’t even have to put it in the pan!

  • Kristi

    Just finished eating this – except for the beans, which I cooked in a stock cube and water, forgetting about the inevitable sodium content. Maybe they’ll be ready for breakfast?

    The lamb was DELICIOUS though! Like everyone else here, I too love your blog! Thank you.

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