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Haricot beans with pancetta

Haricot beans with pancetta
This is a hearty stew-come-soup-come-side-dish. Before we talk about this recipe though, I have a confession to make: it was supposed to be an accompaniment, not a dish in its own right. To what? Perfectly pan fried cod. It was going to be glorious, all crispy skin and perfectly cooked white flaking flesh. But unfortunately the cooking of it didn’t go so well; the skin stuck to the pan! So, I need to invest in a new non-stick pan (and also take some fish cooking lessons from Adam). Ah well, hey ho and all that. The beans tasted fantastic though, I was really pleased with them. And the fish was good too, even if it was no longer in the form of a fillet, but in a pile, with definitely not crispy skin still stuck to the pan! Next time I cook fish – successfully – you shall no doubt see the results here. Anyone got any tips for frying fish? Adam says my pan wasn’t hot enough…
I use dried beans, soaked overnight then cooked for nearly two hours. Not only is it cheaper to buy dried beans, but apparently the soaking releases more of the stuff that makes you trump after eating beans. I read this online, so it is a big fat FACT as far as I’m concerned. That is reason enough to choose dried over tinned I hear you cry, but the main reason I normally go for dried beans is because I prefer the results. Tinned beans tend to stay together more, which, if you’re using them cold for, say, a tuna and white bean salad or something is great. In a warm dish like this they start to break down, and release some of the creamy goodness, which I love. As you can see I had a salad of simple watercress with mine – and of course the poorly fried fish too. But if you’re eating like this, as a stew/soup, then a simple piece of toasted artisan type bread rubbed with garlic and given a lick of extra virgin would be wondrous. Of course, if you’re adept at frying fish, a piece of crispy skinned cod on top would make for a classy dinner I think. 
I know I always say this – well, almost always (I do say when they don’t like stuff though, honestly) – but the children blooming loved it. It’s like posh beans with bacon. Who’s not gonna love that?!
By the way, you could use tinned beans for this (it wouldn’t be quite as nice, but it’d still be good) – it would be equivalent to about 3 cans. 
Serves: 4 adults
Prep time: 12 hours soaking plus 2 more hours cooking beans
Cook time: 45 minutes 
Total time: 45 minutes active (plus 14 hours preparing beans)

250g dried haricot beans, soaked overnight
200g pancetta, cut into lardons
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
Tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped finely
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil 
1 small glass of white wine
2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped roughly 
250ml light chicken or vegetable stock 
Large knob of butter 
Salt and pepper
Squeeze of lemon
  1. Drain the soaked beans. Cover again with twice as much cold water and bring to boil. Simmer until tender, which will take up to two hours. Mine took about 1 hour 50 minutes. 
  2. Fry off pancetta, starting with a hot, dry pan then turning down heat, for about 20 minutes, until nicely crisp. 
  3. Add olive oil to the same pan, along with onion and garlic, and sweat down for around 10 minutes. 
  4. Deglaze the pan with a glass of wine. Turn up the heat to burn the alcohol off. Stir around the pan to get all the crispy flavoursome bits. 
  5. Tip the cooked beans in, add the fresh tomatoes, a large knob of butter, and the hot stock. Bring to boil then turn down to medium heat – not a simmer – and leave to bubble with the lid off for about 10 minutes. 
  6. Season to taste, and add a squeeze of lemon. Serve as is, or with some perfectly pan fried cod on top! 


  1. April 28, 2014 / 10:02 am

    Hey, I think we may cook from the same place Rachel! This looks divine too 🙂
    Janie x

  2. April 28, 2014 / 10:04 am

    Hi Jane! Thanks so much! Yes it was really good. The kids really loved it… it's basically beans and bacon so not surprising! Hope you're better at frying fish than me… : / x

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