It was a transatlantic flight and four nights later in London with no hope of getting to Romania to see my grandparents in time for Christmas when I gave up. Three adults, one toddler, four suitcases, big jackets, lots of toys, no kitchen, many potty breaks, very little sleep, queues upon queues, hopes shattered over and over...our 4 hour layover in London turned into a day-by-day effort to leave the world's biggest airport as it got hit with a staggering 4 inches of snow in the middle of December. I did not want to come back to Denver. I did, however, asked to be rebooked back to Denver and I was ready to leave a costly, well- planned, highly anticipated European Christmas vacation behind. We were rebooked on a flight back home 2 days later.
Giving up seemed easier than fighting. I was done. I had poured myself into planning a well-thoughtout trip- every detail ironed out with the meticulosity and obsession of a type A lawyer mother. Then mother nature and a broken down British Empire that is way past its prime intervened. I wanted out. I wanted no more rejection by British Airways employees that manage to deliver it in the most polite way. I wanted control over my existence again.
Two more nights later and another stroke of British efficiency turned our defeat into a manic desperate drive to succeed. Our rebooked flight home from London to Denver was, in fact, booked as a flight from Denver to London. Yes, we were in London already. Well, at least it was confirmed with a nice accent and a smile. We were stuck, again. The potential of spending Christmas neither with family in Romania, nor at home in Denver put us over the edge.
Finally, after a severe nervous breakdown before airplane staff, we were on a flight to Bucharest through Athens (oddly) on Christmas eve. This one time, that booking mistake did not allow me to give up and return home defeated. It was the best gift I could ever give my ailing grandparents and the best one I could grant myself.
Many months ago, 10 to be more precise, I set out to post the best side-dish to the leg of lamb I cooked for Passover here. That dish was Flageolet Beans with Lamb Jus. I almost gave up on that idea- until today.
Flageolets with Lamb Jus and Garlic Confit, a Bouchon recipe
Ingredients: 2 cups flageolet beans, picked over for stones, soaked at room temperature in 8 cups of water for 24 hours; sachet (see below); 1 large onion, peeled and quartered; 1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise; 1 large carrot, peeled and halved; 8 tablespoons unsalted butter; 2 tablespoons minced shallots; 16 cloves Garlic Confit (recipe here); 1 tablespoon minced thyme; kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper; 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar; 3/4 cup Lamb Jus (just a click away right here).
Sachet: one 7 inch square piece of cheesecloth; 1 head of garlic, split horizontally in half; 1 bunch of thyme (1/4 ounce); 2 bay leaves; 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns. Place it all in the cheesecloth and tie with twine.
Place the sachet along with the onion, leek, carrot and drained flageolets in a pot and cover with 3-4 inches of water. Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add boiling water if it ever reduced lower than 2 inches above the beans.
Remove and discard the sachet and vegetables and cook the beans for another 1 and a half to 2 hours, or until very tender. Pour the beans into a container along with the liquid and let it cool completely. When ready to serve, drain the beans.
Add the butter to a large heavy pan on high heat. When the butter is a deep rich brown, remove from heat and stir in garlic confit, shallots, and thyme. Return to medium heat and add the beans and lamb jus.
Serve with lamb or by itself and don't let yourself give up.
Food Photography by Jennifer Olson.