Haricots Tarbais
Four servings
Although many say these beans will cook in one hour, I often find they’ll take longer, especially if yours aren’t as fresh. In Paris, the water is very mineralized, so cooks add a pinch of baking soda to the water or use bottled. You’ll have to be the judge; just cook them until tender and to your liking, adding more liquid if necessary. When cooking any dried beans, salt should be added after they’re pretty well cooked, since it can inhibit the bean’s ability to soften and absorb water. Since haricots Tarbais might not be easily found where you are, use any good-quality dried white beans (haricots blancs), adjusting the cooking time accordingly.
8 ounces (225g) Haricots Tarbais picked through and soaked overnight
6 cups (1.5 litres) water
pinch of baking soda see headnote
Plus any of the following:
1 bay leaf
a few branches fresh thyme or savory (or a pinch of dried)
1 small onion, peeled and halved
2 cloves garlic peeled
1-2 whole cloves
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1-2 pieces of thick-cut bacon (potrine fumée), diced in big pieces
(or add a big ‘ol ham bone if you’ve got one)
Put the beans in a big pot with the water, and other ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook partially-covered for about 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Add salt to taste during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
If using a ham bone, as I did, pull any bits of meat off the bone and add them to the beans. The beans will turn a darker shade as they’re cooked, as mine did.
Serve warm, drained of most of their liquid (which makes a nice base for soup), alongside braised or roasted meats, or poultry.

Or drain, and use to make a bean salad. To avoid the thin, papery skin peeling off the cooked beans, toss them while warm in a decent-sized spoonful of olive oil right after they’re drained.

Note: Haricots Tarbais aren’t easily available in the US (they’re available on Amazon) but Rancho Gordo has started growing and drying the beans.