Sunday, 19 August 2012

Real Baked Beans

I remember my parents talking about how they used to bake their own beans back when they were at uni. For quite a few years I couldn't see why: baked beans are pretty cheap, right? And how good can your own be anyway?

Well, here, they're not so cheap - at least three times the price of the same beans in the UK, usually more. On the plus side, we live near a great combined market with huge sacks of the white haricot beans that one could bake into beans. Having seen those sacks every time I visit the market, and occasionally cringing as I open a tin of expensive baked beans, I eventually thought - let's do it. Let's bake some beans.

For such a classic British staple I turned to Delia, in her Frugal incarnation. I've simplified some of the steps, since her recipes always seem to involve way too much measuring and transferring from one pot to another. Oh and... because I didn't think 450g sounded like very many beans... I made a whole kilo. Which is an entire massive Le Creuset absolutely full of beans. Well, at least we're sorted for the week! They are also better than the tinned version, after all :)


  • 1 kg dried white haricot beans
  • 3 litres water
  • 3 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 tbsp molasses or treacle
  • 4 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp (or a tiny tin) of tomato puree
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 500g streaky belly of pork

Put the beans and water in a huge oven-proof pot and bring up to the boil, then turn off the heat and leave for an hour to soak. Reheat up to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally to make sure no beans are sticking.

Preheat the oven to 120 C. Finely slice the onion and add, along with the rest of the ingredients, to the beans, and stir to combine. Tuck the piece of pork into the beans, leaving only the rind exposed, which you can slash with a knife to crisp if you intend to eat it. Cover and bake for 6 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing's sticking. The beans will absorb most of the liquid, but if they absorb all of it and start to go dry, feel free to top up with some extra water.

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