Pairing the new season's spring lamb with flageolets is very French. The meat is roasted pink with a seared outer crust, and the beans are cooked until they will collapse at the slightest pressure, then puréed with olive oil and lemon juice.
First prepare the beans: put them to soak overnight in plenty of cold water. Next day, drain them and put in a pan with at least double their volume of water. Bring to the boil over a high heat and boil hard for 10 minutes (they will throw a creamy white scum). Drain in a colander, rinse in clean water and return to the pan.
Cook the beans: chop the carrot, celery, onion and 4 of the garlic cloves into a brunoise and put into the pot with the beans, the piece of bacon, one of the rosemary sprigs and the bay leaf. Cover with cold water, allowing a
Preheat the oven to its highest setting and brush the roasting pan with oil • Brush the racks of lamb with olive oil. Using a small sharp knife, score the fat in a diamond pattern and rub salt and pepper into the cuts and on both sides of the meat • Slice the remaining garlic cloves across into very thin slivers and strew them in the roasting pan. Scatter half the remaining rosemary leaves and half the thyme over the garlic and sit the lamb racks on the garlic, fat side downwards. Scatter the remaining rosemary and thyme on top of the meat • Chop the parsley and juice the lemon.
Roast the lamb for 15 minutes. Then carefully drain the fat from the pan. Turn the racks to bring the fat sides upwards and continue roasting for another 10 minutes.
Transfer to a warm place (above the cooker, for example) and leave to rest.
Gently reheat the beans, which by now should have absorbed most of their cooking liquid. Purée them in the food processor with the lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Add a little water if necessary to achieve a good thick but spoonable consistency. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Then carve the racks into chops.
Put the bean purée into a warmed serving bowl, drizzle over a couple more tablespoons of olive oil and garnish with the chopped parsley. Take to the table with a large spoon for people to help themselves and serve the chops on a separate warmed serving plate.
© 1993 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.