Bergerac has been all over the news this week as it’s rumoured that there is a reboot in the offing. Oooooh, goodie!

Names being bandied around for the main role are Aidan Turner, David Tennant and James Norton.

Aidan Turner, please!

I do not know what Un Piot et des Pois au Fou means (and Google Translate doesn’t help) but I am going to ask my writer chum Sue du Feu who is from Jersey so might know the origins of this recipe.*  John Nettles was, of course, the star of Bergerac, set in Jersey, and he lived there for many years.

This is the second of the John Nettles recipes destined for the Cooking The Detectives book (I’m writing about both Midsomer Murders and Bergerac), and I am delighted to say that I had this made FOR me by the beloved Mr Rathbone. What a treat it was to be cooked for, and what a surprise that this was SO GOOD!

His fun test cooking verdict follows, it’s definitely worth a read-through if you fancy rustling up this one.

Our main question was, where are all the broad beans in North London?!

Mr R has kindly typed up the recipe for us.

4oz (100g) dried butter beans
4oz (100g) dried large red haricot beans
4oz (100g) dried brown beans
4oz (100g) dried small pearl haricot beans
2lb (900g) belly pork or 2 pigs trotters
4oz (100g) fresh broad beans
Seasoning, herbs
Soak the dried beans overnight, drain and place in a large pan with the meat and cover with water. add the seasoning, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. skim, then pour into a casserole, adding fresh broad beans and herbs to your liking. 
Cover and bake at gas mark 2-3 or 300-325F / 150-170C for 4 hours.
We halved the ingredients and used –
2oz (50g) dried butter beans
2oz (50g) dried small pearl haricot beans
4oz (100g) dried Mexican bean mix (contained black turtle beans, pinto beans, small red kidney beans)
2oz (50g) frozen broad beans
1lb (450g) pork belly (chopped into 2 inch pieces)
Sea salt and black pepper (6 grinds of each, see note*)
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
What a lot of beans! We were, after our generous helpings, literally full of the things. But it wasn’t as simple as I thought to source those chosen varieties… The butter beans and small haricot beans proved an easy enough score, and after poring over many dozens of packets in two well-stocked eclectic local shops for the other exact varieties, we decided on a nice small bean mix as a compromise. The broad beans, which I thought would be a doddle to find, proved the most elusive, and we almost used edamame beans as a nearish substitute.
All the big supermarkets, several local shops and two greengrocers all came up blank, and it was only at the eleventh hour that I found a frozen veg mix that contained peas, edamame beans and – finally- broad beans!
Mrs Rathbone, acting as my lovely sous chef, took on the noble job of not only picking the requisite amount of beans from the mix
but shelling their tougher exteriors to reveal the tasty bright green little fellas underneath. Phew!
Our friendly butcher also kindly offered to chop the pork belly for us (from a large long piece), and I’m glad we took him up on the offer, not possessing a cleaver – or indeed the expertise of a professional.
Do note that there were some smallish bones, and the meat is naturally quite fatty. We decided to remove the two layers (one toughish, one soft) from the pork pieces after cooking so as to imbue the dish with more moisture and flavour. The fat is also far easier to remove after over four hours of cooking.
We were unable to find an exact translation of the recipe’s title and decided it might be a Jersey type of French. The nearest seemed to be ‘A Piot and peas au Fou’ which left us none the wiser! What I can tell you, however, is that this was a hearty and warming porky bean-feast, perfect for a cold and rainy winter’s evening. Thicker and drier than a typical soup or stew (you can add water if you wish), this went very well with some fresh warm crusty bread. We both, however, felt it could have done with more salt (having been cautious due to pork usually harbouring its fair share). In fact the salt, pepper and herbs could all have been doubled to add more flavour and you may of course wish to add your own alternative herbs or seasonings. Don’t be shy!
John doesn’t specify the number of helpings, but we got 4 decent portions from our halved version, so the full recipe should serve 6-8 depending on the size of the appetites involved. He does, however, recommend that the dish is “best eaten after a long day at sea or in the fields and washed down with a bottle of fruity Beaujolais (or two).”  Although we had been neither seafaring nor even field-faring that day, we took the second bit of advice, and as I poured Mrs Rathbone a glass from our second bottle (a delicious M&S Classics No.35, Beaujolais Villages 2022)
she was heard to exclaim, “Everything that happens from now on, I blame on Nettles!” Quite!
* lovely Sue du Feu has let me know the following
“It’s what we call in English a Jersey Bean Crock. My family used to make it with pigs trotters which made it nicely glutinous, but I couldn’t face them and always made it with belly pork. You soak the beans overnight and put it in a slow oven all day – delicious!
The title is Jersey French, our patois which comes from Noman French and is so untranslatable that the occupying forces banned it during the war.”
Thanks, Sue!  FASCINATING!

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