Friday 18 October 2013

Baked beans

I like tinned baked beans. Not with any sort of passionate fervour, but I like them. A full English breakfast without some bright red (preferably Heinz) beans isn't quite right. Slabs of buttered toast made soggy with hot beans and a shower of grated cheese is a comforting meal when you are feeling a bit pathetic.

These beans owe rather more to the American tradition of baked beans than to the British tinned variety. The ingredients aren't hugely exotic or expensive, but with a bit of time they cook down into something that tastes quite luxurious. And they also have the virtue of getting better with reheating over a couple of days.
I am reducing the amount of salt in my cooking at the moment, so you might want to add more to this. And maybe a splash of red wine vinegar if you really love the tang of the tinned variety.
Baked beans

500g pork belly rashers, skin off, cut into 1" cubes
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 sticks of celery, diced
250g borlotti beans (dry weight), soaked overnight and drained
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tsp black treacle or molasses
1 tsp English mustard powder
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 whole dried chipotle chilli, slit down the side
1tbs tomato puree

Place the pieces of pork belly fat-side down in a heavy based flameproof casserole dish or dutch oven. Cook over a low heat until the fat starts to render out, then add with onion, carrot and celery and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the beans and tomatoes, fill the tomatoey tin with water to sluice out the juices and add that. Give it a thorough stir to scrape any caught bits of pork off the bottom.

Cover with a lid and bake for an hour at 150C. Remove from the oven, add the rest of the ingredients, plus another can of water if it seems dry.

Bake for another hour, then give it a stir and test a bean for tenderness. If it isn't tender and mealy, repeat the process of adding more water, baking and then testing until they are done. Mine took about 4 hours until I was really happy with them - I think it is because the sauce is so thick it takes longer for them to absorb the liquid than if you just boil them. Of course, if you really don't fancy having the oven on for 4 hours, you can either use tinned beans, or boil the soaked and drained dry beans in plain water for about half an hour, then drain, add to the pork & veg mixture and cook it for about an hour.

So far we've eaten beans with eggs on toast for breakfast, and beans with stilton rarebit for lunch. And we have another portion in the freezer, which may well be served with sausages  or even duck legs for supper.


Suelle said...

For some inexplicable reason, home-made baked beans is still on my 'to do' list. As austerity bites, I've no excuse for not getting on with it. These look very good!

grace said...

i adore baked beans, and you're so right--they're even better a few days later. love those add-ins.

Choclette said...

Oh this sends me straight back to childhood. The only baked beans I liked were the ones my mother slow cooked in the aga with a colour just like yours. Haven't had homemade ones for years.


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