One of the glories of summer is the appearance of bird egg beans, shown here from left to right: two over-mature pods on their way to becoming dried beans, three perfectly ripe pods, and two underripe pods. Looking at the shelled beans, the pale green ones are underripe, the creamy ones with pink flecks are just ripe, and the white ones with maroon flecks are very mature.
These bird eggs just made their first appearance in our market this week and naturally, they came back to the restaurant. I love them for their very beany, almost meaty flavor. I highly prefer just picked green bird eggs to dried ones, not only for their shorter cooking time, but for their flavor. Sadly, the pretty pink and purple colors fade away when the beans are cooked, but that's true for many purple vegetables—think purple string beans, purple artichokes, and purple asparagus.
I've heard these beans called borlotti, after the famous beans from Tuscany. My feeling is that borlotti are what we call cranberry beans: rounder and more spotted versus the more egg-shaped and more striped bird eggs. If anyone knows the relationship between bird eggs and borlotti, please post a comment.
Fresh Bird Egg Beans Ed's Style
I've been cooking bird eggs this way ever since I left college. For me, there's no better way, but I do love them any way that they are served.
3 c (about 1 pound) shelled fresh bird egg beans
1 poblano chile, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 T minced garlic
1/8 pound slab bacon, rind off, diced
salt and black pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer until all beans are tender, 30 to 45 minutes. At home, I eat them just like this. At the restaurant, I take a big ladle full of beans and juice and reduce them over high heat in a pan. When nearly dry, I season with salt and swirl in a touch of butter just to finish them. They make a perfect base for lamb chops.
I just love these beans. I hope you will try them.