Nowadays, small reconstituted white dried beans in slightly sweetened tomato sauce, with chunks of bacon, though an older tradition continues in parts of the East Midlands with Grey Peas & Bacon
Bacon and beans is the first dish in the first English cook-book - Cury 1390 - though, of course, in a broth, as the tomato did not come into use until the 1600's. Foods of England has the Full Text here..
Most of the nations of Europe have their bean stew. In Spain it is fabada, in France, cassoulet, there is jota in Croatia and in England it is Bacon and Beans, though it is a puzzle why the English, who buy enormous quantities of Beans with something in tins, so very, very, rarely make it at home.
Original Receipt in 'The Forme of Cury' by the Chief Master-Cook of King Richard II, c1390 (Cury 1390)
FOR TO MAKE GRONDEN BENES
Take benes and dry hem in a nost or in an Ovene and hulle hem wele and wyndewe out že hulk and wayshe hem clene an do hem to seež in gode broth an ete hem with Bacon.
[FOR TO MAKE GRONDEN BENES
Take beans, and dry them in an oast or in an oven and hull them well, and winnow out the husks and wash them clean. And set them to seethe in good broth, and eat them with bacon.]
Gronden ?= prepared, grounded, basic
Oast: A wind-blown drying tower, still occasionally used for drying hops for beer.
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