Home made baked beans!

Home made baked beans!

March 18 2015
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It snowed this morning – a dusting really, but I love how excited we become at this sprinkling.  It’s like fairy dust – cloaking us all in an enthusiasm for the cold and the outside.  It might have lasted an hour before the cars and the people came and drove their presence through its purity, and the light it cast was gone,  just a memory.

Which (kind of) leads me on to comfort food.  This is definitely comfort food.  It’s also comfort cooking.  If you can be bothered to cook your own beans it’s enormously satisfying and infinitely better than the canned alternatives, though I have to agree it is a faff.  I lobbed a pork bone from a Sunday roast into my cooking beans infusing the kitchen with the most gorgeous cooking smells.  I’m not cooking for a vegetarian tonight, though obviously if I was I’d have cooked the beans separately or forgone the pork bone goodness.  The recipe divides for the vegetarian and you’ll have to forget I said about the pork bone.

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Serves 4-6 (2-3 meat eaters, 2-3 veggies)
550g home-cooked haricot beans or 3 x 400g tins haricot beans
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 400g tin tomatoes
2 tbsps honey syrup
2 tbsps molasses
1tbsp mustard
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 apple cyder vinegar (or if not, white wine vinegar)

If you’re cooking your own beans, soak them overnight or for at least 4 hours in double their volume of water.  Drain and rinse before placing in a saucepan with enough water to cover.  Bring to the boil and leave for 1 – 2 hours without adding any salt.  Test to see if they are cooked by their softness – they should retain some bite but shouldn’t be crunchy and definitely not mushy.  Keep the cooking liquid.  As I said, I cooked mine with a leftover pork bone so the cooking liquid was full of goodness from the bone too (rich in amino acids the liquid is highly nourishing).

And then (or you may be starting from here)  fry the onion and garlic until soft.  Add the cayenne, honey, molasses, soy, mustard and vinegar and finally the tin of tomatoes.  Then add the beans and some of the bean cooking liquid if you have cooked your own, or the drained tins if not.

Bring to a gentle simmer, and I mean gentle, and leave for half an hour or so letting the flavours combine.

I’ve shown it here with halloumi which you should slice, fry and brown on each side.  Or it’s great with sausages if you’re a meat eater, or some pulled pork or have the beans by themselves on toast with, possibly, a poached egg on top.

I also served it with a green salad and you could do the same or add some green veg – it feels like it needs something green.

By the way, molasses is very nutritious.  It (they?) is the by-product of refined sugar – so all the good stuff we take out of sugar is molasses.  It’s high in potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and Vitamin B6 which begs the question why we remove it.