Slow Cooker Flageolets, Gratinéed | Also, Bread Bowls
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In the span of two weeks, I have managed to deplete a many-years-old supply of dried beans, freeing my pantry of half a dozen half-filled boxes and countless rubber band-bound bags (some holding mere tablespoons of beans). Yes, you guessed it, I have my slow cooker to thank for this small but very satisfying feat. The rebuilding has begun — just ordered more gigantes and flageolets — and it feels good.
What can I say, I’ve become a crockpot-for-beans evangelist. Here are a few things I’ve learned these past two weeks:
• Water works just as well as stock, so save your stock for your favorite soups and sauces.
• This combination of pantry staples produces an incredibly flavorful stock and, in turn, pot of beans: a bay leaf or two, 2 to 3 chopped onions, 2 to 3 cloves minced garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, olive oil, bacon or pancetta, and a parmesan rind if you have it.
• Nice additions include canned San Marzano tomatoes crushed right into the pot, and/or finely diced carrots and celery added during the final hour of cooking.
• For every 8 oz. of dried beans, 4 to 5 cups of water is about right.
• It doesn’t seem to pay to use more than 2 oz. of bacon or pancetta — you end up with a thick layer of fat floating on top, which is no big deal — it can be skimmed off — but easily avoided.
• Gratinéed beans are irresistible. Most of the time I just ladle the stewy beans into a bowl, and tuck in with crusty bread. But, I recently made Ina Garten’s Mustard Roasted Chicken, which reminded me how much I love crispy herbed breadcrumbs, which reminded me of gratinéed beans, which I made immediately. You can use any concoction of beans that emerge from your slow cooker or Dutch oven or whatever: just ladle beans into shallow dishes, cover with herbed breadcrumbs and bake until golden, about 20 minutes.
• Also, bread bowls. See below.
Sick of beans? And crockpot discussions? May I suggest a favorite chicken recipe this time of year? Ottolenghi’s Roast Chicken with Clementines.
Or another sort of gratin? Love this sheetpan mac n’ cheese.
Have a wonderful weekend, Everyone.
The basics for an incredibly flavorful broth and, in turn, pot of beans:
Flageolet beans can be hard to find, and if you can’t find them, white beans work well here, too. I found this brand at Whole Foods, but I also love these Roland flageolets.
This is what the beans look like after 6 hours in the slow cooker:
At this point, you can add finely diced carrots and celery and let the beans cook for an hour longer, which will allow the vegetables to cook without turning to mush. Or you can eat them as they are.
These are the same herbed breadcrumbs I use for Ina’s mustard roasted chicken and similar to the ones in this sheetpan mac n’ cheese gratin.
Slow Cooker Flageolets, Gratinéed
Last week I had my first slow cooker success: Gigante Beans with Pancetta and Tomatoes, and I’ve been using my slow cooker every other day since to make some sort of slow-cooked bean dish. I love these flageolets straight from the crockpot with crusty bread, but it’s fun to cover them with breadcrumbs and bake them until they bubble, too.
- for the beans:
- 8 oz dried flageolet beans or white beans
- 1 bay leaf
- pinch red pepper flakes
- a few cloves garlic, smashed
- two onions, chopped
- a few sprigs thyme
- 2 oz. diced bacon
- parmesan rind if you have one
- 4 cups water
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- kosher salt to taste
- 1 cup finely diced carrots
- 3/4 cup finely diced celery
- fresh cracked pepper for serving
- shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano for serving (optional if you are making the gratin)
- toasted bread for serving (optional if you are making the gratin)
- for the breadcrumbs:
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled
- a small handful fresh thyme leaves (if the strands are soft, no need to strip the leaves)
- zest of one lemon
- Kosher salt
- 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Place beans, bay leaf, pepper flakes, garlic, onions, thyme, bacon, parmesan rind, water and olive oil into your crockpot. Cook on high for six hours. Taste beans. They should be done or close to done. Add carrots and celery, salt to taste — two teaspoons of kosher salt does it for me, but start with one then add more as necessary — and cook for 1 more hour. Note: You also can add the carrots and celery during the last hour of cooking, especially with flageolets, which seem to cook faster than other white beans. As alway, check water level every so often, and if it looks low, add more.
- At this point, you can serve the beans with crusty bread, shaved Parmigiano Reggiano, and cracked pepper or you can spoon the beans into gratin dishes, cover with breadcrumbs and bake until golden. See below.
- Make breadcrumbs: Place the garlic, thyme strands (stems, if they are soft, and all), lemon zest, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt in a food processor fitted with the steel blade and process until the garlic is finely minced. Add the breadcrumbs and 3 T of the olive oil, and pulse a few times to moisten the breadcrumbs. The crumbs should be moist — add the additional tablespoon of olive oil if necessary.
- Preheat oven to 400ºF. Spoon beans into gratin dishes or any shallow, oven proof dish you have — if you are serving a lot of people, you could make one larger gratin in a pie plate or something similar. Cover beans with a layer of breadcrumbs. Cook until golden, about 20 minutes. Let sit 20 minutes before serving — these beans retain their heat for so long.
Is it passé to serve soup in a bread bowl? Good, just checking. I tried three vessels: a 2-cup Lifefactory storage container (the one with the orange sheath, which is ovensafe), an oven-proof cereal bowl, and a 6-oz ramekin.
In the oven:
The winner? The 6-oz ramekin:
To make bread bowls: Follow peasant bread recipe through step 2. Then, preheat the oven to 425ºF, grease 6-oz ramekins or something similar with butter — be generous. Divide the dough so that each ramekin is filled with dough till just below the rim. Let ramekins of dough rise in a warmish spot (on top of the oven as long as it is not too hot is a good spot) for 20 minutes or until the dough begins to creep above the rim. Bake for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375ºF and bake for 15 to 17 minutes more or until the bowls are golden. Turn loaves out onto cooling rack and let cool completely before using for bread bowls.
To use as bread bowl, cut off a small portion of the top. Use a knife to carve out the innards. Pull out the bread, pour in the soup, and serve.
Note: I would imagine one peasant bread recipe would yield about 6 to 8 bread bowls, maybe more.
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25 Comments on “Slow Cooker Flageolets, Gratinéed | Also, Bread Bowls”
Everything looks marvelous. Would you mind sharing the brand and model of the slow cooker you have been using in these recipes? I’m in the market for one.
Thanks, Missy! I think the one I have is not being made anymore — I got it as a wedding gift about 10 years ago now, but this is the model: All Clad AC-65EB, and I found one on Ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/All-Clad-Slow-Cooker-Crock-Pot-model-AC-65EB-/291355345953
It appears to be 6.5 qts, but I can’t tell for sure, and there is a ceramic insert. I have nothing to compare it to, so I can’t totally endorse it, but these are my thoughts 1.) It has worked well the handful of times I have used it. 2.) I don’t know that it’s necessary to get an All-Clad crockpot. I love All-Clad pans, and I am happy to have an All-Clad slow cooker, but from what I understand, you can get good results in not-too-expensive crockpots. 3.) Someone mentioned last week that you can buy crockpots now that can work on a stovetop — so you can brown meat and sauté vegetables, etc — then stick the insert right back into your slow cooker, which eliminates the two-pan process.
Hope that helps!
Only just a tiny passé–but really fun to bring back the old? And I bet children would have fun with a bread bowl. The beans are great inspiration, espeically with snow in the forecast and a long weekend inside. Love the idea of using water.
The kids do LOVE a bread bowl 🙂
Just yesterday I dismissed a suggestion that I get a slow cooker… but now I am doing some serious reconsidering!
Amelia — it took me about a decade to come around to my slow cooker, so you have time to reconsider 🙂 I am loving it for beans, but that’s about all I know at the moment.
Check out Andrew Schloss’s book, “Art of the Slow Cooker”. 80 nifty recipes…it’s not a fix it and forget it kind of book…you have to do the prep…but then you are rewarded with some very tasty meals. And not just beans (though his pork and beans is delightful).
Ok, will do, sounds great, Dee, and much better than the slow-cooker book I own. Thanks!
I need this all winter long!
Me, too! I love nothing more than having a stash of cooked beans on hand for lunch and easy dinners.
I happened to catch an episode of Cooks Country recently on slow cookers. Since you’re in the zone, you might want to check it out. They made a ziti recipe and had neat tips. I may have to buy one, too. Please do share your make and model!
Oh, awesome, thank you for telling me! Checking out the episode right now. Here is the link if anyone else is interested: https://www.cookscountry.com/episode/446-colorado-chili-and-slow-cooker-baked-ziti You can watch it online…amazing! I am curious to hear their reviews on slow cookers and very curious about the baked ziti, too.
OK, I responded about re my model, which I don’t think is being made anymore but here it is: All Clad AC-65EB, and I found one on Ebay: https://www.ebay.com/itm/All-Clad-Slow-Cooker-Crock-Pot-model-AC-65EB-/291355345953
I said this above, too, but I don’t think it’s necessary to buy an All Clad slow cooker. Mine was a gift, which I am grateful for, but I have heard you can get good quality slow cookers at affordable prices.
Those beams look so creamy and delicious! And your little ceramic dish is so gorgeous! Do you have an online source? I love that they are oven-to-table.
Hi Rachael! I bought those at a little shop in Solvang, CA several years ago now for next to nothing — a shop was having a clearance sale. The good news is that these little cazuelas are pretty affordable. I haven’t purchased them online, but these from Amazon look really similar. Hope that helps!
Thanks for the referral, those look like they will work perfectly and are affordable. That’s funny, I am from Santa Barbara area and we went to Solvang often. I was much more into ebelskivers and clogs at the time and never even noticed cooking stores there. I’ll keep an eye out next time I’m in town wine tasting.
On another note, I made the preserved lemon chicken thighs last week. Doing them entirely on the stove is revolutionary! Thanks again 🙂
Haha, I love it. We loved the ebelskivers! Here is a link to the post with some shots from the area: https://alexandracooks.com/2010/05/12/champagne-oysters-solvang-los-olivos-los-alamos-los-angeles-get-away/
So happy to hear about the preserved lemon chicken thighs — I adore that recipe!
A question and a tip… first, do you need to soak the beans overnight before you put them in the slow cooker?
Second, I LOVE this recipe for slow cooker chicken stock, if you are hoping to expand your slow-cooker repertoire. It is so easy and smells fantastic while it’s cooking away, and makes homemade stock seem much more manageable to me since it’s so hands off. https://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2013/11/perfect-uncluttered-chicken-stock/
Hope you enjoy!
Hi Emily! No need to soak! I was wondering the same things, and did a little bit of online research, which assured me to proceed without soaking. A lot of the articles I read including one from Russ Parsons of the LA Times and another from Kenji from Serious Eats actually advised never soaking no matter what vessel you are using.
And thank you for reminding me about Smitten Kitchen’s chicken stock recipe. I have been meaning to try it out since I read about it, but I don’t think I actually ever pulled out my slow cooker last winter. Now that it is a fixture on my countertop, I need to give it a go!
Ali, you’ve been on a bean kick lately. Are you familiar with Rancho Gordo out in Napa. Best resource for heirloom beans. I still order all my beans from them.
Hi Chris, I love Rancho Gordo! A friend from San Fran sent me a box of RG beans a few years ago, and I got hooked. I looked on their site for gigante beans, but couldn’t find them — I swear they had them at one point. Thank you for the reminder! Great to hear from you.
Quick question…would it be alright to add the carrots and celery in the beginning or do I need to wait until the last hour…??
Hey! You can, but adding them at the last hour just prevents them from getting soggy. But if you don’t mind soggy, go for it — they will add flavor to the broth/sauce/beans etc.
recipe sounds great but what is the number of servings?
I would say about 4.
Thanks again, Alexandra, for a lovely-looking recipe! Would you have any guidance as to how to make this in the oven or on the stovetop? I, alas, don’t own a slow cooker, but would love to try this soulful-looking dish.
I did finally take a stab at making a half-batch of your peasant bread and like it very much. I think I may have left it too long on the first rise (small emergency at home, and the poor dough waited four hours before I could finally get back to it). Will try again when things calm down!