Vegetarian Guernsey Bean Jar Recipe
Traditional Guernsey Bean Jar is a delicious, inexpensive stew-type recipe usually made with beef shin, pork hocks or pigs' trotters, haricot beans, and butter beans. It originates in the British Channel Island of Guernsey (just off the coast of France) and dates back as far as anyone can remember. Legend has it that local bakers would allow the poorer islanders to use their ovens to cook their bean jars overnight. In the morning the islanders would come to the bakers to collect their earthenware pots of hot steaming bean jar and take it home to feed their families, serving it with hunks of bread and Guernsey butter.
The tradition of making Guernsey Bean Jar carries on to this day, although with the arrival of electric or gas ovens and slow cookers, it has become far less troublesome to cook than it was in the days when a crock in a baker's oven was the only practical and affordable way to prepare this simple, tasty and inexpensive meal.
Of course there are many vegetarians who are unable to partake of the delights of the meaty wholesome traditional bean jar, and it is with this in mind that I have come up with a vegetarian alternative to the standard Guernsey Bean Jar recipe. I am assured that this is an excellent version of the original recipe, and have been told this by people who enjoy both vegetarian and meat-based meals. I hope you too enjoy this winter warmer once you give it a try for yourselves.
- 400g dried butter beans
- 400g dried haricot beans
- 900g (3 bags) Quorn chicken-style pieces or quorn sausages
- 4 large carrots
- 4 large potatoes
- 4 large onions
- 6 large mushrooms
- salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons dried mixed herbs
- a large knob of butter (optional)
- 3 litres (approx) vegetable stock (enough to just cover ingredients)
- Place your dried beans in the large bowl and fill the bowl completely with cold water. Leave to soak overnight.
- The following day, peel and and roughly chop your carrots, onions and mushrooms.
- Peel your potatoes, chop into chunks and rinse in cold water to remove all starchiness.
- Place your vegetables and your soaked beans into the large casserole dish or slow cooker.
- Add your vegetable stock, butter, mixed herbs and the pepper. Don't add salt until the bean jar has finished cooking, because it can keep the beans from getting soft.
- Keep the uncooked Quorn pieces for later.
- Bring your prepared vegetables and beans to the boil as quickly as possible, either on a high oven or the 'high' setting on your slow cooker. Then reduce the heat to approx 100 degrees Celsius, or 'low' on your slow cooker.
- Cook for approximately 6 hours.
- Cook the Quorn pieces as per the pack instructions, and then add them to the casserole dish or slow cooker.
- Cook for a further 2-3 hours.
- If the bean jar is too watery, either remove the lid for a while to allow some of the liquid to evaporate away, or add a couple of tablespoons of cornflour mixed with cold milk to the dish and stir in. Return to the oven until the bean jar is boiling again and has thickened up. Adding more pre-cooked potatoes will also help to thicken the bean jar.
- Season with salt according to taste (and adjust other seasoning as required).
- Serve with buttered crusty French bread.
For even more tasty results, allow to completely cool and reheat the second day when the flavours will have developed even more depth.