Haricot of Mutton


  • lb. ( k.) lean mutton (from the leg)
  • lb. ( k.) onions
  • 1 lb. (½ k.) carrots and turnips
  • thyme
  • pints (¾ 1.) stock
  • 1 lb. (½ k.) haricot beans (dry)
  • butter
  • a glass or two of red wine
  • lb. (¾ k.) peeled, diced potatoes or peeled new potatoes
  • piece of fennel
  • cup of green or frozen peas
  • seasoning


A very old recipe, though this version comes from a late eighteenth-century collection. At this time it would not have had haricot beans, which had not then been introduced into England. The word ‘haricot’ had probably been mixed up with the word ‘halicot’, to chop finely. However, only slightly later recipes have white and red haricot beans.

Soak the haricot beans overnight. Drain and cook them in salted water for 1 hour. Drain and reserve.

Chop into ½-inch (1-cm.) dice the very lean mutton. Fry in butter an equal quantity of chopped onion till just browning. Take out and put in the bottom of a deep casserole. Fry the mutton lightly in the onion liquor, then place it on top of the onion. Dice the turnips and carrots, brown in the same pan and add to the casserole, mixing them lightly with the mutton and onions. Add the cooked haricot beans, if these are to be used. Season well and add some sprigs of thyme. Fill up just to cover the meat and vegetables with a good meat stock – not necessarily mutton – and a glass or two, depending on the size of the haricot, of red wine. Cook very slowly in the oven for 2 hours. If no beans are to be used, as in the original recipe, add half the quantity of the meat in potatoes cut in ½-inch dice (or very small new potatoes whole) after 1½ hours. At this point put in a small piece of fennel. 10 minutes before serving, add a cupful or so of green peas.

This recipe was served with the gravy unthickened but slightly later recipes always had the mutton rubbed in flour before frying and some form of gravy browning added. Some had the stock poured off and thickened with roux before putting back over the meat.

In the early nineteenth century the same quantity of beans were added as of meat, and potatoes were omitted. Butter beans can also be used, and these are excellent bought ready in tins and then added only for the last 10 minutes. Green beans, such as lima, are also good.