Sunday, 12 May 2013

Tuscan beans in tomato sauce and braised lamb shank - Recipe

I used to be a real snob when it came to stock.
Making my own chicken, fish and vegetable stock whenever I could and only buying sous-vide packed  beef stock.
The reason for this is that I often reduce my sauces and stock cubes then become too salty.
However, I must admit that stock cubes do work, and work really well in many instances. Let alone the fact that I do not always have time to prepare my own stock, and sous-vide packed stock works out too expensive.

I was offered some Knorr stock-cubes to try. Quibble free.
I must admit that Knorr are my favourite in any case; I find them less salty than other brands.
Rather than write a review, I would put my test out to share in this recipe.
The taste speaks for itself !

This recipe is not only delicious, fairly economical to prepare and more importantly; can be prepared in larger batches for freezing.
This will give you enough for 2 adults and 2 small children or 2 adults and some extra beans to freeze.

Please note the beans will have to soak in cold water overnight or up to 24 hours before cooking.
You could cheat and use tinned cannellini beans. In which case you will simply cook the beans on the hob, at medium-high temperature until all liquid has evaporated.
However, it may not be as tasty and there is a risk the beans turn to a mush.

Both dishes will only take about 5 to 10 mins of preparation BUT 2 hours minimum of cooking. The longer you cook everything, the better it will taste. Here is the recipe :

Ingredients for the Tuscan beans :

- 300g dried beans (cannellini, butter beans or other white beans)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 to 3 garlic cloves
- 1 large teaspoon of dried sage leave or 5 large fresh leaves
- 1 leek
- 1 can (400g) chopped tomatoes
- 1 Knorr Chicken stock cube (use vegetable cubes for vegetarian meal and friends)

Ingredients for the braised lamb shanks :

- 1 onion or 2 shallots
- 1 carrot
- 1 large sprig of thyme
- 2 lamb shanks
- 1 small bottle of white wine (optional)
- 1 Knorr chicken stock cube diluted in 450ml of water

Method : Start by preparing the lamb as they take longer to cook

Pre-heat the oven to 150c

1. Trim the lamb, if not already done so by removing the extra fat

2. Peel and chop the onions and carrots
3. Place the carrots at the bottom of an oven-proof pan or casserole and sprinkle with the chopped onions or shallots. Break the sprig of thyme and scatter on top of the vegetables

4. Add the shanks, on their side, on top of the garnish

5. Pour the wine over the meat and add the stock
6. Leave to cook, covered in the oven for 2 to 3 hours or until the beans are ready and the meat of the shanks falls off the bone

---------------------------------------------------------------                                                                            Method for the beans :

1. Wash, trim and chop the leeks as finely as you can (white part only)
2. Heat the oil in an oven-proof pan or casserole over medium heat and add the leeks to soften
3. In the meantime, peel and chop or crush the garlic. Add the garlic to the leeks when the leeks are soft and translucent

4. Dilute the stock cube in 450ml of boiling water
5. Add the tomatoes  and sage to the leeks

6. Drain and rinse the beans, mix them into the tomatoes
7. Cover with the chicken stock

8. Ideally, cover with a cartouche (a round piece of baking parchment to cover the surface of the pan)
This will prevent the beans to "steam themselves" but the most important thing is that they have to be cooked with the lid on
9. Heat the beans on the hob, over high heat and bring to boil. Take out of the heat as soon as it starts boiling
10. Transfer to the oven and cook, covered for at least 1hr and 45mins

11. By then, the beans should be soft. Remove the lid and place back in the oven to dry the excess liquid out or do so on the hob, stirring regularly

Serve with the lamb shanks (See top picture)

PS. Unfortunately, if you used wine to braised the shanks, the carrots and onions will have absorbed much of the wine taste. Please discard them.

Disclaimer : I have received some Knorr stock cubes and stock pots to try for free. The free nature of the samples has not influenced my preference for the Knorr brand over other stocks and always has been my favourite. Neither Knorr, nor Uniliver has sponsored this post and all views and recipe are 100% my own


  1. I love any recipe with beans. This looks great and budget friendly. I think it would be great made in the slow cooker.

    1. I never use a slow cooker but I expect it would be best to concentrate the flavours. On the other hand, bear in mind you need a lot of the moisture to evaporates and turn into a thick puree. Can the slow cooker let the steam out ?

  2. loving your recipes

  3. Oooh, I love the Tuscan Beans. I'm vegetarian and that is a full meal in itself for me. That's now on my meal planner for next week.

    1. Let us know how you got on with it. x