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Duck with white beans

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(a simplified version of the southern French cassoulets.)

For 4-6 people: 500 g white beans, soaked overnight; 1 ham bone or a piece of strongly smoked brisket ("leader") or beef jerky, also with a strong smoky flavour; 1 vegetable onion, 2-4 carrots, depending on size; 1 bunch of fresh rosemary, at least 2 cloves of garlic; 1 duck of approx. 2 kg; 1 pound of waxy potatoes, 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley; 1/4 l of strong, fruity red wine; salt, black pepper.

In a large, heavy saucepan (with lid), preferably made of cast iron, bring the beans with the bone or ribs or jerky just covered with water and red wine to a boil. Continue to simmer over a low heat.

Meanwhile, slice the onion into strips, mince the garlic, dice the carrots and add all this. Bury half the sprigs of rosemary in the pot. After boiling, taste how much salt the meat is likely to give off and then measure the portion. Not much can happen, because the potatoes have a balancing effect. Peel them, quarter them lengthwise and put them on top of the beans. Salt and pepper them. Sprinkle the chopped parsley on top.

Divide the duck. Remove all reachable fat and also especially greasy skin. Preheat the oven to 150°. Place the duck pieces, salted and peppered, on top of the potatoes, skin side up. Finally, sprinkle the remaining rosemary sprigs over the top and place the covered pan in the oven, reducing the temperature to 100° degrees after 10 minutes. Taste occasionally and re-salt if necessary. After about 2 hours, everything should be cooked.

 

Dried fruits and year-round fresh herbs

At first glance, Horst Franck's stand has all the teas, herbs, rice or dried fruits you are familiar with, but in sheer bewildering variety and all in exemplary quality.

Whether it's the plump, superb juniper berries from Italy, as indispensable to winter game dishes as they are to first-rate sauerkraut; whether it's the year-round fresh herbs, from Moroccan mint to Brazilian ginger; there's the freshest garlic all year round. You'll find almonds from Sicily, even harvested from small farmers; truffle oil is in stock, as is, say, cassava flour, mate tea or white corn from Brazil.

Not to mention black beans. In general: beans. They are one of the oldest foods of mankind and form a large family. There are roughly two groups: those that are eaten with the pods, and those whose seeds are coveted. It is the latter that we are concerned with here, more precisely: the white species. In many cases, spice dealers carry the widest assortment of white beans, and Franck offers 6 varieties of white beans at his stand.

If white beans glow green, you're looking at the finest ones, flageolets. Cocos are the name of the finest of the smallest; more substantial are the barely larger black-eyed beans from South Africa. Good as a salad are the large ones, "Gigantes". The ones you find in every supermarket are mostly lingots or the somewhat larger "Judias granjas" from Spain. Fresh white beans come on the market for a very short time in late summer, otherwise they are only available dried.

German housewives cook soups of them in winter, as of peas and lentils, the legumes. Not a name that expresses appreciation: they are cheap, make you full, little work, and have more protein than meat. On the other hand, Magister Elzholtz, while already praising their "flushing power", complained that they caused "much flatulence and restless dreams". So the cookbooks suggest various countermeasures: after the obligatory soaking (preferably overnight), one should change the cooking water, salt only last, cook a lot of onions, don't forget a pinch of baking soda, and the like. Horst Franck, however, recommends not soaking the beans, but boiling them (with all the ingredients) for half an hour and then covering them and putting them aside overnight. The next noon, they only need to be boiled up and will be evenly cooked.

Important for wholesomeness is to give the seeds a fair amount of acidity with good vinegar. As in fine cuisine, where, like lentils before, white beans are now experiencing a veritable renaissance: As a fine puree to Maultaschen Friedel Meier in the "Sonne" (Johannesberg near Aschaffenburg) brings them to the table; Klaus Wewetzer at the "Geiersmühle" (Michelstadt-Vielbrunn), sometimes serves a ravishing ragout of white beans, tomatoes and veal tripe; in a fine salad with veal kidneys, white beans can be found at Markus Buchholz at the "Kaiserhof" (Guldental/Nahe). And nowhere did any unpleasant side effects make themselves felt.

I like to cook "White Beans with Duck and Rosemary", a version of the Southern French cassoulet, but greatly simplified and less labor-intensive. A delight to all the senses, the stew uses much less meat than the original from the Midi.

Specialties from around the world

Horst Franck and Ute Franck <./strong>

Kleinmarkthalle, Stand 100a

60311 Frankfurt am Main

Telephone: 069 / 294134

Fax: 069 / 294134

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7.30 am - 6 pm, Sat 7.30 am - 4 pm

from Waldemar Thomas

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