Bacon-wrapped green beans are very traditional in French cooking. It’s a bit dated, but most are really happy having fagots de haricots vert au lard, as we say in French.
This is the perfect side to serve with any main course, pretty enough to prepare for a fancy dinner, yet quick and easy. You’ll get the rich smokiness of bacon with the fresh crunch of green beans, an irresistible flavor combination in every bite.
You can make them ahead and just fry the pre-wapped green beans in a pan.
Some in France might think these bundles of green beans wrapped in smoky bacon are somewhat of a dated recipe.
It was indeed very fancy in France in the 80s. I recently realized that this recipe has a powerful sympathy capital. Actually, each time it’s on the menu, most French feel nostalgic, remembering a family meal or a personal anecdote.
Green beans, haricot verts in French
Which green beans to choose
Preferably fresh green beans, if you can find them and have the patience or time to remove the stems.
Otherwise, use frozen green beans, preferably extra-fine.
I don’t recommend using canned beans, as they’re often soft and won’t hold up as well during the second step of this recipe when rolled in bacon and sautéed in a pan, unless you know a good-quality brand of tinned beans.
How to cook green beans
Green beans are very often served as a side dish in France. Either cooked in boiling water or in a steamer. In France, we use the technique cuire à l’anglaise, literally, “cook the English” way to cook green beans in water.
Here is how to cook à l’anglaise: Cook green beans in a large volume of boiling salted water, then plunge them into an ice-water bath.
Use very cold water or drop ice cubes in water. This will stop the cooking process and keep the vibrant green color.
- Shall you start in boiling or cold water?
- In France, we have a way of remembering if we need to use boiling or cold water to start the cooking process of vegetables.
- Vegetables that are grown in the soil must be placed in a pot with cold water, and then you turn on the heat. Do this for carrots, potatoes, leeks, turmeric…
- Vegetables that are grown on the surface can be thrown in boiling water. Do this for green beans as in this recipe, peas, broccoli, squash…
Note that you want to cook for a few minutes, less than the green beans’ standard cooking time.
Green beans need to remain a bit firm as they will continue cooking in the pan once rolled in bacon, but still cooked enough (thus, blanching wouldn’t be sufficient).
Bacon or smoked bacon
It’s up to you. Choose slices of pork belly, lardon in French, that aren’t too fatty because we want meat and not too much fat.
In my opinion, smoked bacon gives the much-loved taste to these bundles, but if you prefer plain bacon, no worries.
You will need thin slices, long and large enough, as those strips will be rolled around green bean bundles.
Preparation and cooking notes and tips
To create the ultimate bacon-wrapped green bean dish, follow these straightforward steps.
- First, as explained above, precook the green beans in water or steam them. Be sure to stop cooking when they are still a little crunchy, as they will continue to cook with the bacon.
- Then form small bundles of equal length, place this bundle at the end of a thin slice of bacon, and roll it up. Trim the ends on both sides to make identical bundles. This is optional, of course.
– Don’t discard the ends. Add them to a soup, a mixed salad, a casserole…
– This can be made ahead. You can cook the beans in advance and pan-fry them at the last minute.
- Finally, melt butter in a frying pan and pan-fry the bundles on all sides. It’s ready when the bacon is crisp and golden. This step can also be done in the oven, although the bacon will be slightly less crisp. You may also use an air-fryer, but I won’t give you the exact cooking time as I’m unfamiliar with it.
In France we don’t add any honey, soy sauce, sugar… No need to glaze as you’ll get an excellent finish with bacon sautéed in butter.
What to serve them with
These little bundles of green beans go just as well with meat or fish, or even an omelette, as in my photos.
However, be sure to serve them either with meat or fish in sauce or with a gratin or purée so as not to pile on the dry preparations (unlike me the day I took the photos!!) and get a well-balanced dish.
It’s the perfect side to steak or lamb. In France, for Easter, my slow-cooked 7-hour leg of lamb is a must.
Bacon-Wrapped Green Beans Bundles
- 250 gr green beans
- 6 slices bacon smoked +/- 100 gr
- 2 knobs butter
- water Ice-cold is best
Cook the green beans
- Heat a large quantity of water with a pinch of salt. While the water is heating, rinse and remove the stalks from the green beans.
- Cook the beans in the boiling water for about 8 minutes. They should still be crunchy.
- Drain the beans and put them immediately into a bowl of ice-cold water, or even water with ice cubes, to stop the cooking and keep the vibrant green color.
Prepare the bundles (see step-by-step photos).
- Form 6 small piles of green beans, arranging them parallelly, one next to the other, forming bundles.
- Place each pile at the end of a slice of bacon. Roll up so that the bundle of green beans is well covered with bacon.
- Trim the ends of the beans to create uniform bundles (optional). Repeat for each bundle.
Fry the bacon-wrapped green bean bundles
- Heat two large knobs of butter in a frying pan. When the butter has melted, arrange the bundles in the pan (you can hold them in place with a toothpick, also optional).
- Fry the green bean bundles, turning them occasionally so that the bacon is golden on all sides. This will cook the bacon and heat the beans.
- Serve immediately.
The main steps:
1- Cook green beans until slightly crunchy.
2- Create bundles by rolling green beans in thin bacon slices.
Bundles can be prepared ahead.
3- Then pan-fry bundles in butter before serving until bacon is crisp and golden.