Traditional Guernsey Bean Jar is something you musn’t miss if you’re passing through this lovely island in the autumn or winter months. Pop into a local pub or a bistro and see whether you are lucky enough to have a bowl of this local dish.
Bean jar is a hearty, mild stew of lima & Haricot beans, onion, carrot & leg of pork on the bone (or shin of beef). Absolutely perfect for cold evenings like the ones creeping in lately.
Although, bean jar takes hours before it is ready, the prep is minimal and all magic happens in the oven.
Until the end of the German occupation of Guernsey (1945), when the food supplies were extremely limited, bakers of Guernsey used to let the islanders cook their bean jars in the bakery ovens. The bakers would accept bean jar dish pots, which were wrapped in brown paper, tied up with a string and have family names attached on labels, so it was clear which pot belongs to who. Bean jars would cook slowly in the residual heat of the previous day’s baking after the bakery had finished cooking the bread.
Cheap like beans bean jar
I like bean jar for its warming qualities, delicious flavour, simplicity and… because it is cheap like beans! Literally 🙂 This is going to be one of the cheapest family meals you’ll cook in your life!
This also must be the healthiest dish served in a pub! 🙂 I’m serious here – beans are a great source of protein, complex carbs, fiber, vitamins, minerals (copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium and zinc), and antioxidants.
They say that every Guernsey family has their own bean jar recipe. Some will add a few potatoes, stock instead of water, some will use beef shin, others leg of pork on the bone. I added dried marjoram and garlic because I remember that these 2 always work great with beans. Just like in the traditional, Polish bean & bacon soup recipe.
- 1 pigs trotter or shin of beef
- ½lb (200g) Haricot beans
- ½lb (200g) butter (lima) beans
- 10 garlic cloves - sliced
- 1 large onion - chopped
- 2 carrots - diced
- 2 tbsp dried marjoram
- 2 dry bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 pints beef stock or water
- Place beans in a deep bowl, leaving 4 inches room at the top of the beans (they will expand a bit). Fill the bowl with water almost to the top and leave to soak overnight.
- The following day, using a colander, discard the water, which beans were soaking in.
- Soften the onions along with garlic in a pan and transfer to a large casserole dish.
- Add the beans and all other ingredients (except for salt & pepper) to the casserole dish.
- Cover the dish and place it in an oven at 160°C for 6-8 hours.
- Check your bean jar occasionally and top up the water (or stock) as needed.
- About an hour before the end of cooking season the stew with salt & pepper.