After a weekend at the farmers market explaining to people that they were looking at dried beans, not candied nuts, it was a real pleasure to get this interesting question from a customer in the great Pacific Northwest:
I recently made a recipe of braised lamb (shoulder blade steaks) in a red wine sauce (a variation of recipes by epicurious, Patricia Wells and your recipe section) with your flageolot beans that I cooked separately in a mirepoix (as described on your site, but this one added the mirepoix raw, not sauteed first)... and then when all was done, I served the beans in a bowl covered with the tender falling off the bone lamb, and the the defatted stock drizzled over all. Plus the garnish of cilantro and lemon zest. It was absolutely out of the world yummy. (although I left the cilantro off of hubby's as he does not like it).
I am going to replicate this dish for a potluck next Sunday and my question is this... Do you think the dish tastes better with the beans cooked separately, like I did in the raw mirepoix liquid, or would the dish taste better with the beans and lamb cooked together as described in one of your recipes on your site? And do you think the beans taste better in a sauteed mirepoix or a raw one? I don't have time to make all renditions before the potluck on Sunday and wanted your input!
I think your method of cooking them apart was wise. Unless I'm being very lazy, I do the same. I prefer separate, distinct flavors and textures to a one pot mixture. People are often surprised to hear that I prefer the traditional Texan recipe for chili, which does not include beans. But I wouldn't dream of serving chili without a side dish of pintos. It's just the thought of one pot of overcooked mess that does nothing for me.
I'd also be a little concerned that the red wine would have too much acid and may keep the beans from cooking soft.
I've always sauteed my mirepoix in olive oil but this dish sounds so rich, I don't know that it's at all necessary.
Please send me an invite! This sounds like a great dish.