To Ragoo French Beans

This recipe combines two comfort foods in one. The classic elements can be served at a holiday meal, or as a side dish at an everyday supper.

18th Century

Take a few beans, boil them tender; then take your stew pan, put in a piece of butter, when it is melted shake in some flour, and peel a large onion, slice it and fry it brown in that butter; then put in the beans, shake in a little pepper and a little salt, grate a little nutmeg in, have ready the yolk of an egg and some cream; stir altogether for a minute or two, and dish them up.

Glasse, Hannah, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple” 1796.

21st Century

Note: This is a two-part recipe as you see it here. The beans are done in the first recipe then the potatoes in the second. Combined together they make a neat and attractive dish.

  • ¼ lb. green beans
  • ½ stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 medium onion
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons (plus) cream
  1. Cut your beans into 2 or 3 inch pieces and boil in water until medium tender in a stew pan.
  2. In a medium saucepan, melt the ½ stick of butter, shake in half of your flour and stir with a whisk.
  3. Peel the onion, cut it in half and cut those halves into thin slices. Put them into the butter and flour mixture. Fry your onion in this until golden.
  4. Drain the beans from the water and add to the onions and add the rest of the flour, salt and pepper. Stir well.
  5. Add the cream, or more if needed and stir well.
  6. Whip the egg yolk in a separate bowl and add this slowly to the beans as you stir over a medium heat. After a couple of minutes’ stirring, take it off the fire.

Beans Ragooed with Potatoes

18th Century

Boil two pounds of potatoes soft, then peel them, put them into a sauce pan, put to them half a pint of milk, stir them about, and a little salt; then stir in a quarter of a pound of butter, keep stirring all the time till it is so thick that you cannot stir the spoon in it hardly for stiffness, then put it into a halfpenny Welsh dish, first buttering the dish; heap them as high as they will lie, flour them, pour in a little melted butter over it, and then a few crumbs of bread; set it into a tin oven before the fire; and when brown, lay it in the middle of the dish (take great care you do not mash it), pour your ragoo round it, and send it to table hot.

21st Century

  • 1 lb. potatoes
  • ½ cup milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • ½ tsp. salt (or a little more if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons bread crumbs
  1. Peel and boil the potatoes in water until soft.
  2. Drain and put them into a mixing bowl and mash them.
  3. As you mash the potatoes add the milk, half the butter and your salt. Continue to mash them till they are stiff.
  4. Mound the potatoes up in a pie plate and dust the flour over them, then drizzle over the rest of the butter melted and then top the whole with the bread crumbs.
  5. Brown the top of this mixture in the oven with the broiler on until the crumbs are brown and crisp.
  6. Gently place the potatoes in the center of your serving plate with a nice flat spatula. Then take your ragooed beans and spoon then nicely around the potatoes. You are ready to serve.

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14 Responses to “To Ragoo French Beans”

  1. February 7th, 2013

    Jan says:

    Green beans and mashed potatoes!! And you must love anyone who can find a reason to add an egg yolk and cream to a vegetable. Can’t wait to try it. (Did the Colonials have a version of chicken-fried steak??)

  2. February 22nd, 2013

    Do you all think ragoos where strictly aristocratic or are ragoos seen in all levels of society?

    • February 27th, 2013

      Dennis Cotner says:

      Ragooing seems to be for those who can afford seasoning ingredients. the beans and potatoes don’t cost much but the other items can run up the tab. I’d say that probably the upper third of society would be capable of creating these style dishes. Thanks Charles,

  3. May 16th, 2013

    Neil says:

    In your pictures the sauce doesn’t show, but each time we try the sauce it has the appearance of scrambled eggs

    • May 19th, 2013

      Historic Foodways says:

      This is not a sauce really but rather a batter. In the picture everything around the chicken is the batter. While making the batter you should whisk it thoroughly as you heat it so it will turn out smooth rather than clotted. The recipe does work and I hope you will try it again as we are sure you’ll enjoy the end results.


      • May 19th, 2013

        Neil says:

        Well!! now I’m really confused, there being no chicken in the receipt to begin with.
        To date I’ve done chine of pork, barley soup, pork cutlets, roast leg of lamb, farced cabbage and asparagus farced in French rolls all in the fireplace and all with out a hitch. but this one has me stumped. I can get the first roux smooth
        it’s when I add the remainder of the flour and the cream and egg that I get into trouble.
        This is a great site please keep the dishes coming.

        • May 20th, 2013

          Historic Foodways says:

          Sorry for the confusion Neil. It is a wonder no one else picked up on this. We’ve changed the instructions to make better sense.

          Your sauce with the beans is sort of a light coating and you did that right. There are no other added eggs or flour to this which is why it is confusing. Thanks for your patience with this one!

  4. May 24th, 2013

    Neil says:

    Thank you for the quick reply.
    When will the corrected instructions be posted?

  5. May 25th, 2013

    Historic Foodways says:

    The instructions have been updated.

    • May 25th, 2013

      Neil says:

      I’m really sorry to be such a bother, but the “updated
      instructions” are the very same ones I printed on 3/24/2013 word for word. or is it me??

  6. June 3rd, 2013

    Angela says:

    I have tried this one as well Neil and there is so much batter around the green beans that it is really like a choux past surrounding the green beans. I think it is the flour maybe. I tried it twice with constant whisking and it comes out the same each time. I guess we could tinker with the receipt on our own. Maybe the original was a bust also.

  7. June 10th, 2013

    Historic Foodways says:

    For those of you who are having problems with this recipe I’ll try to adjust it so that it will hopefully help you.

    Try 1 Tbsp of flour rather than two and add 1/2 of it the first time (Step 2) with the butter and the rest with the beans salt & pepper (Step 4). If this seems a little thick add another tablespoonful of cream as you work through Step 5. There are times when flour has moisture in it and can act differently than if it is dry.

    Sorry this has not been turning out for you all, it really is good. Let us know if there are further problems.

    Thanks for all of your interest.
    Dennis Cotner

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