This is a great lockdown recipe as it’s slow food at it’s best. Yes you can buy perfectly good beans in tins from the supermarket but there is something oh so wholesome about making your own. Plus shop bought tinned beans are notorious for having high salt and sugar contents so by making your own you have control over how much goes in. This time around I didn’t add any seasoning to mine until the very last minute so that I could separate some for Bradley, leaving them salt and sugar free (ie baby friendly).
This recipe could easily be halved but I always make a big batch then freeze smaller portions to use another time because a) its saves on effort/energy and b) I love having healthy veggie dishes in the freezer for times when I don’t feel like cooking.
For flavour I’ve added bacon (unsmoked) but you could add smoky bacon or just leave it out completely if you wanted to make a vegetarian/vegan version. If you like a bit of spice in your life, feel free to add some chillies. Once mastered you can tweak this recipe by leaving out the rosemary and bacon and swapping for chorizo, oregano and paprika for a Spanish take on baked beans or even add some curry spices to make curried beans. Why not try something different?
Its is important to soak the beans overnight. I used haricot beans, which were quite tricky to find (finally found some in Waitrose) but cannellini beans would work too. I tend to cook the beans in the pressure cooker after an evening of soaking then once cooled, store them to the fridge then finish them on the stove the following day, adjusting the seasoning and reducing the sauce then. The flavours tend to develop overnight so by cooking them over two days I find you get a better flavour and a better consistency in the beans but you can, of course cook them in one day. It’s just how I like to do things.
Use these beans as you would shop bought tinned ones; on toast, in a jacket spud or with a fry up for example.
500g dried haricot beans
1 stick celery
1 brown onion
2 or 3 garlic cloves, grated
100g back bacon, chopped
1 sprig rosamary
2 bay leaves
3 x 400g tins tinned tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 vegetable stock cube
red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper
Olive oil/rapeseed oil
Soak the beans overnight in cold water.
The following day, chop the bacon into small pieces then fry over a high heat in some oil to brown (skip this stage of you’re making a vegetarian version). Meanwhile, finely chop the carrot, onion and celery and add to the pan. Cook the vegetables over a low heat until soft then add the grated garlic, rosemary and tomato paste. Cook out the garlic and tomato paste then drain the beans and add to the pan. Stir the beans to evenly coat them in the flavours you have in the pan then transfer to either a large baking dish/casserole or to a pressure cooker.
Add the stock cube, some salt and pepper and the tinned tomatoes plus two empty tins of cold water (use the empty tomato tins). Season with salt and pepper then either pressure cook for 30 mins OR transfer to the oven at 160C for two hours.
Transfer the beans to a large pan/pot and simmer over a low heat until you have a good sauce consistency. Stir often to avoid the beans “catching”. Once you are happy with the consistency of your baked beans, have a taste then add a tablespoon of vinegar and a tablespoon of sugar. Stir well the taste again. I like to add ketchup to my beans so here I’d add a good squirt of ketchup then continue to taste the beans until I’m happy with the flavour, adding more salt, pepper and sugar until I’m happy. The sauce should be well seasoned with salt and pepper and slightly sweet.