Navy Beans with Maître D’Hôtel Sauce

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Preparation info

  • Serves


    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

By Annie Gray

Published 2019

  • About

The remarkably simple maître d’hÔtel sauce was ubiquitous with plain vegetables and beans from the Victorian era onward. Butter, parsley, and lemon juice were some of the most common ingredients in cookery at this time, and country house kitchens like that at Downton regularly went through anything between three and fifteen pounds (1.4 and 6.8 kilograms) of butter a week (more at Christmas). Parsley was used as a green herb and fried as a garnish, and lemons were used both for flavor and in their practical role as an acid that helped stabilize egg foams (and clean copper).


  • 2 cans (14 oz/400 g each) navy (haricot) beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tablespoons (60 g) butter
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, large stems discarded, minced


Put the beans into a saucepan, add water just to cover, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil until heated through, 2–3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a second saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and cayenne, season with salt and black pepper, and whisk thoroughly. Stir in the parsley.

Drain the beans, add them to the sauce, and mix gently to coat. Serve hot.

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