Sometimes life calls for what I like to call Man Food. Big, gutsy flavours, a spicy kick and a satisfying plateful of food in your tummy.
I decided to cook these beans when my sister and her boyfriend were coming round for supper. The Boyfriend is a country type, so the occasion DEMANDED man food, really.
This dish was perfect, so Brian, it’s for you.
We start with some nice, tasty vegetables to make a nice, tasty base for the dish. The usual suspects here; carrots, onions and celery.
Heat some oil over a low heat…
Meanwhile, slice the onion…
Finely dice the celery and carrot…
And add to the pan to gently sweat.
We also add some nice spices. I added some chilli here, because I like it HOT, but think it wasn’t totally necessary. Without the chilli, you have lovely, smokey, spicy baked beans. With the chilli, you have HEAT. I’ll leave that decision in your hands, dear reader. I’m nice like that.
Anyway, batter the garlic, chilli (if using), salt and sugar about for a bit in a pestle and mortar. If you do decide to take a picture, make sure to turn that ISO right up so you can blind people with the pictures of it all. Or don’t, but that is what I did.
After a bash up, turf the lot in with the sweating vegetables…
And give it a good stir.
Then, turn up the heat a wee bit and add some bacon. Or pancetta if you are feeling middle class, but good old-fashioned bacon is fine. I like something smokey here.
Mmmm….bacon…little tastier I reckon. Bacon….
While the bacon is cooking in that saucepan of joy, we are going to grind some spices up. I put mine in a pretty pestle and mortar…
Then realised I couldn’t really be bothered with that game and did it all in a spice mill instead.
The spices then go into the pan, too, along with some tomato puree…
Some dark chocolate (don’t question it, just do it. It’s tasty, mmmkay?)…
And some Worcester sauce, some treacle and a bit of balsamic vinegar.
Now, give the whole lot a nice big stir…
Before adding the water.
Now, allow it all to hubble and bubble away for about half an hour.
The following picture is terrible, but when I first spied the sauce looking like this I freaked out and though that due to some bizarre reverse physics that I was burning my sauce from the TOP.
Turns out, it’s just the effect of the treacle or something, so panic not.
After the mixture has hubbled and bubbled for a while, stir in the mixed beans…
And you should have something that looks a little like this…
Now, you can just serve it now, but there is huge part of my inner psyche that couldn’t possibly serve up a dish that has ‘baked’ in the title, that has not, in fact, been, erm, baked, so I’m going to guild the lily a bit here.
Grab some bread and drizzle with oil. I find
the plastic white stuff I keep for emergency hangover bacon sandwiches handcrafted artisan bread to be best here. To be fair, it doesn’t matter that much.
Toast the bread in a hot oven for about 15 minutes…
Then make it into crumbs (I blitz the bread in a food processor) and use the crumbs to cover the beans…
Pop the whole dish into the oven and bake until brown and crispy. Should take about half an hour.
The finished dish is nice with a salad and some crusty bread or baked sweet potatoes.
Homemade baked beans
Serves 6. Cooking time 1.5 hours.
4 tbsp oil
2 sticks celery
2 cloves garlic
2 chillies (optional)
100g bacon or pancetta
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp peppercorns
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
15g plain chocolate
300g tomato puree
1 tbsp treacle
2 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 tins mixed beans
2 slices bread
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over a low heat.
2. Peel and dice the carrot, slice the onion, and dice the celery.
3. Sweat the vegetables in the oil, stirring occasionally.
4. Crush the chilli, if using, and garlic, together with the salt and sugar.
5. Add these spices to the pan.
6. Turn up the heat and add the bacon.
7. Grind the dried spices finely and add these to the pan.
8. Add the tomato puree and chocolate, along with the Worcester sauce, treacle and balsamic vinegar.
9. Add the water, and allow the whole lot to simmer away, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
10. Add the beans and transfer to an ovenproof dish.
11. Preheat the oven to 180.
12. Drizzle the remaining oil over the bread and toast in the hot oven for 15 minutes.
13. Blitz into crumbs and use to top the beans.
14. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crisp and golden.