Lima beans, also known as butter beans, are probably my favorite shell bean. Fun fact: When I put this dish on the menu at Rustic Canyon with the name “lima bean,” nobody buys it, but when I list it as “butter bean,” it sells out and everybody loves it.
To me, one of the best things about eating beans is the broth, and when you can add butter, garlic, and pecorino to it, it becomes something really great. The only acidity in this dish comes from the sorrel, which brings a really nice tang.
1 pound (455 g) shelled fresh lima (butter) beans
2 garlic cloves, germ removed, peeled and smashed
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup (2 oz/60 g) tightly packed torn sorrel leaves, plus 2 tablespoons fine chiffonade of sorrel leaves
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper kosher salt
2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 teaspoons Garlic Confit Purée, at room temperature (see below)
1/2 cup (30 g) finely grated pecorino romano cheese
2 tablespoons oil from Garlic Confit, at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated Cured Egg Yolk (see below)
Place the lima beans in a pot filled with 4 cups (1 liter) cold water. Place the garlic and rosemary in a single-layer square of cheesecloth, tie it into a sachet, and add it to the pot with the beans. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, at just below a simmer, until the beans are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat, discard the sachet, and add the torn sorrel, black pepper, and salt to taste. (You will notice that the sorrel turns drab quickly, but that’s okay. It’s about the flavor more than the appearance, with tart sorrel standing in place of lemon to balance out the other ingredients.)
Right before serving, fold the butter into the beans.
To serve, warm the bowls and add 1 teaspoon of the garlic confit pureé to the bottom of each bowl. Spoon the beans and their broth into the bowls (since black pepper tends to settle to the bottom of the pot, make sure to re-stir the soup before each ladle).
Finish with the chiffonade of sorrel, grated pecorino, garlic confit oil, and cured egg yolk.
Confiting is the process of slowly cooking something while it is submerged in fat. Duck confit is probably the most famous version of this method, and it is cooked in duck fat. Garlic confit is not cooked in garlic fat, because to my knowledge, garlic fat does not exist.
Confited ingredients are incredibly useful to keep in your larder. They add deep, slowly developed flavors to any dish, even if you don’t have the time to slow-cook something.
At Ubuntu, we’d often wind up with too many greens, so we would blanch and purée them with some of the confited garlic and its oil. The purée would look bright, fresh, and green, while also tasting of deep, slow cooking.
makes 2 cups (480 ml)
1 pound (455 g) whole garlic cloves, peeled
4 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (240 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (240 ml) grapeseed oil
Preheat the oven to 250°F (120°C/Gas 1/2).
Place the garlic cloves in a pot or a baking dish with a lid. Add the thyme and salt and
pour over the olive and grapeseed oils. Cover and transfer to the oven. Bake until the
cloves are spreadable but not falling apart, 2 to 3 hours.
Let the garlic cool to room temperature. Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Garlic confit purée
Here is yet another of the many great things you can do with garlic confit. This pureé has a garlicky, roasted flavor that functions as an excellent condiment for all sorts of things, like tomato salad or roast chicken.
makes 1 1/2 cups (360 ml)
1 cup (240 ml) Garlic Confit
11/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
In a blender, combine the garlic confit, vinegar, 1/2 cup (120 ml) water, and the salt and purée until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Cured egg yolk
This cured egg yolk functions as a great vegetarian replacement for the salty, briny taste of bottarga (cured fish roe). It is excellent grated over things like pasta, Caesar salad, or steak tartare. Try to find the freshest eggs from your local farmers market—with rich, orange yolks—and give the yolks six full days to cure.
makes 12 yolks
1 pound (455 g) kosher salt
1 pound (455 g) granulated sugar
12 large egg yolks
Combine the salt and sugar in a large bowl. Transfer three-fifths of the cure to an 18 x 13-inch (46 x 33 cm) rimmed baking sheet.
Using the pointy end of a whole egg, dig 12 evenly spaced divots in the cure, being careful not to burrow so deeply that you are exposing the bottom of the pan (you are going to be filling the divots with egg yolks and the yolks need to be entirely surrounded by the cure).
Place each yolk in its own divot. Using the remaining cure, cover each yolk so they are completely encased.
Cover the sheet with plastic wrap (clingfilm) and refrigerate for 2 days.
Remove the plastic wrap, flip the egg yolks over, and then cover again with the cure.
By this point, the yolks should be quite sturdy and shouldn’t break easily, making the flipping quite easy. Cover again with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 more days.
After curing the egg yolks for 4 days (total), remove the yolks from the cure and rinse them under a gentle stream of room-temperature running water. At this point, there is still an outer membrane, which you may not be able to see—but I swear it’s there. While running the yolks under water, carefully remove and discard that membrane, then set the yolks aside on paper towels.
Pat dry the yolks thoroughly (don’t worry about handling them, as they should be sturdy, and even if they become misshapen, you can usually reshape them into their original form).
Lay the egg yolks on a dehydrator tray (not on a pan or dehydrator sheet as you want as much air circulation as possible) and dehydrate at 135°F (57°C) for 2 days until fully dried. Wrap each yolk individually in paper towels and refrigerate for up to 1 month. (They may well last longer than a month, but they’re so damn tasty that I’ve never waited long enough to find out.)
Buy this book
On Vegetables: Modern Recipes for the Home Kitchen