!@#$% Lamb in White Bean Sauce


        So it seems Happy in the Kitchen is my book of the moment. I have sung praises of the foie gras brulee that I have made from this book in the previous post, so I cannot wait to make another dish.

         It was with curiosity that influenced my choice of the next recipe: lamb loins in white bean sauce.   Flashback to last year’s Hell’s Kitchen with Gordon Ramsay. For fans of the show, I’m sure you remember when Virginia correctly guessed the secret ingredient that was white beans for the puree the sea bass was sitting on. Ever since that episode, I was curious as to what a white bean puree or sauce would taste like and figured this recipe would be a great way to find out.

     I did not have the lamb loins required by the recipe, but I have just bought a fresh leg of lamb and decided to use that instead. It should work, right? Wrong…


     Unfortunately, the lamb part of this dish did not work out too well — simmering in water in a plastic wrap. For one thing it was too thick and was taking forever to cook. I do not think it was the recipe’s fault because it called for rolled up lamb loin which looked infinitely thinner. I used just a third of the leg of lamb but it was still bursting at its seams at five inches thick .With dinner time fast approaching, I decided to cut my losses and slice up the leg of lamb to sauté some of it and put the remainder in the oven to roast.


Sliced leg of lamb with white bean sauce

            Adapted from Michel Richard’s Happy in the Kitchen


Leg of lamb (roasted whole or sautéed in slices) * I used just a third of the entire leg

3 cloves Garlic

2 pcs Thyme

1 bay leaf

Salt /pepper

White bean sauce


1 cup dried white beans, such as navy beans, rinsed and picked over

½ medium yellow onion, cut in half

1 large celery stalk, cut into 2 –inch pieces

1 medium tomato, cut in half

1 large piece of leek green, cut in half

2 sprigs rosemary

1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces

2 Veal bones (it originally called for the bones from the lamb loins but I did not have this since I had boneless leg of lamb)

Season the Lamb with salt and pepper. Crush the garlic. Rub over the lamb. Lay the pieces of thyme and the bay leaf on top, pour some olive oil on it and let it sit overnight.

Place the dried beans in a small pot, add enough water to cover them by 2 inches, and bring to a boil. Drain the beans, and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with paper towels. In an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven or other heavy casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium high heat. In batches, brown the bones, and set the bones on the prepared baking sheet.

Pour off and discard all of the excess fat in the pot. Leave the caramelized bits on the bottom of the pot, but discard any browned fat pieces.

Spread out two large pieces of cheesecloth on a work surface. Divide the bones in half and place on the cheesecloth, keeping each bundle relatively flat. Top each group of bones with half the onion, celery, and tomato, a piece of leek green, 1 ½ sprigs of thyme, a rosemary sprig, and a smashed garlic clove. Tie up the bundles and place in the pot. Add the carrot and beans. And just enough water to cover the beans, about 4 cups, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Using a potato masher, push down on the carrots and beans in the pot. The mashed beans will thicken the sauce as it continues to cook. Simmer for an additional 1 ½ hours, or until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and discard the cheesecloth bundles. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a small sauce pan. Do not press on the beans to extract the liquid, or the sauce could be gritty;

    Test consistency of sauce and further reduce if desired.

Meanwhile, remove the lamb from refrigerator and cut into ½ inch slices. Heat 1 tbs of canola oil and sauté the lamb slices to desired temperature (if roasting is preferred then I suggest putting it in the oven @350F after the first 1 ½ hour time period of the white bean sauce preparation)

     Arrange the lamb slices and drizzle the white bean sauce on top of it.

Cooking Notes:

    This was quite an involved recipe and a bit frustrating. It took at least 3 hours to make the white bean sauce. I am making this point here because when I made this, I thought it would just take 1 ½ hours and when I saw the “simmer for an additional 1 ½ hour”, I just about flipped because this threw off my timing for dinner. Luckily I was planning on finishing the sauce first before I started the lamb. Now I had to start the lamb sooner as well as attend to the bean sauce so the hubby wouldn’t get too hungry J.

     As I mentioned earlier, another hiccup in this entire process was that I had to sauté the lamb because the “simmering in a plastic wrap” did not cook the meat properly; I reflected my recipe above to what I ultimately did.

     The white bean sauce was really tasty and it had a very interesting mouth-feel. It was hard to tell that it was made from beans since it was strained very gently so the resulting sauce was very refined with no gritty texture. I would hardly call this sauce extraordinary though, especially after the foie gras brulee, but I think I know what made this sauce less than stellar. The original recipe had used the fat and bones from the lamb loins, which I did not have, and those alone are very important elements to the complexity of the bean sauce.

        Will I make this sauce again? Absolutely! Now that I have a handle on the timings needed to make this, I figure I can give this another chance.

       I will admit I am not too crazy about simmering plastic-wrapped meat in water. This part I don’t think I will be retrying any time soon.

10 thoughts on “!@#$% Lamb in White Bean Sauce

  1. Very interesting way of preparing the lamb.. can't say as I've ever heard or wrapping meat up in plastic and boiling it. Huh. Think I'll pass too. hehe

    The bean sauce sounds really good though – but what did you mean about the mouth feel? 'splain sister! 😀

    So you watched Hell's Kitchen.. I am a HUGE fan and I have a HUGE crush on Gordon.

    I KNOW!!

    Do you happen to watch "The F Word" on BBC America as well? Not nearly as good when it comes to cooks twittering in fear, but actually better in some ways as it shows his personal side and his family.. he's not nearly the monster that Hell's Kitchen portrays him as.

    Oh.. and he wears jeans alot and lemme tell ya sis, he looks really.. really good in jeans. 😉 heehee!


  2. Lis -I have a thing for Ramsay too :D. I think it's the accent..and he seems to be very athletic. I have never caught him on BBC america , I keep on forgetting but I would love to watch that show. Jeans…huh! I would love to see him in those. (I better stop gushing…the hubby reads these comments)
    Oh the mouth feel I was talking about was the smooth,silky texture nothing you would expect from a sauce thickened with beans.

  3. I have to admit that I loved watching Ramsays Kitchen Nightmares on BBC America — that's the show where he would have seven days to turn around (or not…) a failing restaurant. It was a huge dose of tough love! I don't think I'll be trying boiled lamb in plastic wrap any time soon, but that sauce sounds good, and I love the way you rescued the meat.

  4. Um…the bean sauce sounds really involved and time consuming but maybe worth it. I think I'd like to try that; I really enjoy beans. I'm just not a fan of boiling hardly anything. I guess my exception would be corn beef.

  5. Don't you hate it when this happens? Very frustrating.

    I have a perverse love of Gordon Ramsay, although I can't watch every episode of Hell's Kitchen when it's on–small doses. However, I have noticed that great soccer-guy body! There was a great article by Bill Buford about him in last week's New Yorker. He inspires complete loyalty, apparently, in those who work for him, despite the abuse (which is real, real, real)–I guess there's something there deep down the camera's can't capture.

  6. Hi Veron – I actually remember that part of the show because I remember Virginia kept going on and on about her 'gift' of taste.
    Sorry to hear that the recipe didn't go quite as smoothly as planned, but the dish still sounds absolutely terrific – and I'm glad you got a smooth sauce out of it.

  7. I so admire how you apply yourself to the recipes you select. This one seems quite laborious.However, you went ahead with it. I would love to taste the bean sauce

  8. Hi Lydia – I think Ramsay is doing an american version of Kitchen Nightmares. I read this in the New Yorker.
    Hi Tanna – well it certainly is time consuming and I would do it only if there is something else I could do in the kitchen for that amount of time.
    thanks T.W. – you know me …living on the edge …;)
    Hi Brandon – thanks for pointing me to the New Yorker article…very informative. I used to dislike ramsay but he kinda grew on me. Oh…I really feel sorry for the subjects of his rage too, which makes his show hard to watch sometimes.
    Thanks gilly – I kinda loved and hated Virginia at the same time…it was weird…
    Hi Peabody – I thought a picture will explain more about the method than words could.
    Thanks Valentina – I have noticed that a recipe feel laborious only the first time you make it. But once you know what is involved it is not that bad — most times that is (sometimes it is as difficult no matter how many times you make it)

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