Where I am from in the French Pyrenees, and especially in the Comminges Region, when people need to get together for an annual or a perennial event they throw a mongetade party. In Occitan language mongetes means beans, so a mongetade will always involve a bean dish and an unlimited number of people. There is as many recipes as there is villages, however there is two consensus: the use of white beans –preferably coco tarbais— and couennes, that is porc rind. The meats varies from pork, duck or geese confit, lamb and/or mutton stew to pork sausages and a piece of cured ham wouldn’t hurt. Never would it be served with merguez —lamb sausage— but why not? and I can guarantee you it is delicious. I made this dish for the graduation dinner of our friend Dr. Randall Horton, I think he liked it, he had several helpings! You will notice that I skipped the pork rind, I didn’t have any available, but I will sure use them for the famous bean dish often served at mongetades and dear to my heart & stomach: la Pistache Luchonnaise. Stay tune for that post when I go home this summer, meanwhile enjoy this one!
Soak 1 lb of Coco Tarbais over night — you can substitute for Lima beans.
2 lbs of fresh Merguez (Mediteraneen lamb sausages. I buy mine at Aunt Halime’s Halal Meat on 3rd Avenue and Ovinton in Bay Ridge but you can get them on line at….yes! d’Artagnan! )
1 big onion, sliced thin.
1 red pepper, 1 green pepper
1 teaspoon of piment d’Espelette (medium hot fragrant hot pepper grown in the Basque Country. Can be substitute for hot paprika.)
3 Tbsp of duck fat ( or olive oil)
Salt/Fresh ground pepper to taste
Optional for the hachi:
2 cloves Garlic
1 cup fresh Parsley
1 piece of Fatback
After soaking the beans overnight, drain the beans, change the water bring to a boil, reduce heat once it boils and simmer for about 1 hour or until beans are tender. Do not salt the water. Once the beans are cooked, drain and cool them, drizzle some olive oil on them to prevent them to dry if they are going to sit for a while.
Preheat oven 400º.
Meanwhile in a roaster type pan mix the fat, the onion, the pepper and the sausage, the chili pepper, the salt & the black pepper. Mix thoroughly and put into the oven for 20 minutes, once the vegetables and sausages are sizzling and have rendered all their juice add the beans. There should be juice from the mergez and the veggies in the roaster but make sure you add some liquid if needed; you need about 1/2 inch of liquid in the pan , it can be vegetable or chicken broth and you can even add 1/2 cup of dry white wine, if you have none of these just add water. Mix well, lower the oven temperature to 320º, put the dish back in the oven and let simmer for 30 minutes so all the flavors can bind together.
Take out the oven and taste, if you find it too blend -which would be surprising- you can add a hachi of parsley, garlic & fatback (optional). To make a hachi blend all the ingredients to paste in a mortar or food processor (much easier!). Garnish with a sprigs of parsley and serve with good bread and Southwestern French wine; a Corbières or a Spanish Tempranillo would be perfect.