This is a very basic dish that pairs wonderfully in the cold months with meat, poultry, or pork. When I cooked at the Hotel Post in Nagold, we served it frequently with Roast Pork. Despite their inherent humility, we transformed these beans into quite an elegant little side dish, serving them in a ramekin beside a lovely slice of pork.
3/4 pound dried red beans or kidney beans
1 bouquet garni
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 slices lean bacon
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups full-bodied red wine, such as Burgundy
1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
4 whole black peppercorns
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh parsley
2 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium shallot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 dried bay leaf
At least 8 hours before serving the dish, pour the beans into a colander and rinse thoroughly, removing any stones or hard bits. Remove the beans to a large bowl, add water until the beans are covered by about 1 inch, and set aside at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
The next day or when ready to prepare the dish, drain and rinse the beans and place them in a large saucepan. Add water to cover the beans by about 1 inch, toss in the bouquet garni, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Remove the bouquet garni, drain the beans in a colander, and set aside.
Place the saucepan over high heat, add the bacon, and sauté until crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove the bacon, drain on paper towels, and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions and garlic to the bacon drippings, and sauté until golden brown, about 3 mintues. Toss in the carrots and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes.
Return the beans and bacon to the pan, stir in the wine and sage, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, simmer until the wine is reduced to a medium gravy consistency, about 10 minutes, and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.
To serve, spoon the beans into individual ramekins or small bowls.
To make Bouquet Garni:
Bouquet Garnis are pouches of spices and herbs, bundled in cheesecloth and tied with kitchen twine. The ingredients can vary greatly, but for this ragout, bundle the above items in a piece of cheesecloth (about 6 inches square).