Friday, July 25, 2008

Bird Egg Beans

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.


  1. I made them for a good friend this eve. He happens to be a waiter at my restaurant and opened a bottle of Haven Meritage after he invited me for a glass of wine or after I invited myself...that has yet to be determined... Anywho, these beans r amazing and I did them with melted leeks, vino verdhe, lotsssso garlic, and a sachet of coriander and bay leaf and reduced to a' sec then mounted with two dollops of butter sprinkled with fresh mint, basil, chives, and marigold greens from his porch side Terra cotta was with the cards the dealer gives u and use ur own goddamn brain to figure it out...goodnight folks!

  2. I just found these at the Freight Station Farmers Market this weekend and had no idea what to do with them. I googled and yours was the first recipe that came up. (Plus what are the odds, you're in Winchester too!) Made them tonight and I'm hooked. I will be getting more next weekend. Thank you so much for sharing the recipe.

  3. Shelling bird egg beans just now (and tomorrow it will be lima beans) from Freight Station Farmers Market. It's a big bag (each) and I am planning to blanch and freeze for winter. But with your recipe at hand, and poblanos, onions and garlic from the Farm at Sunnyside (in Little Washington), I'm really looking forward to a tasty treat for dinner tomorrow night! Thank you!

    1. You are most welcome. The blog has now moved to