As a kid I hate hate HATED baked beans. The smell of those nasty canned little bastards still makes me gag, but once I discovered homemade baked beans, my world was changed. Beans are one of my most favourite foods and a fantastic way to get some soluble fibre into my diet. I love them in curries, Mexican (ALWAYS) and especially a decent batch of homemade baked beans. I am now the type of person that favours a café that makes beautiful baked beans over other places, and if a dish is available with the home cooked beauties, I will automatically order them without looking at the rest of the meals available.
The thing is though, I’m quite particular about how I like my beans cooked. Maybe I’m a food-snob, or maybe I just know the difference between baked beans and chilli (cumin, paprika and coriander constitutes chilli, people! I mean, SHIT!). Either way, I like my baked beans cooked in a similar style to Boston baked beans. (Although, to be perfectly honest, my beans aren’t exactly baked as much as they are simmered. I’m a contradiction, I know, but you love it)
More to the point – my Bangin’ Baked Bean recipe:
This recipe has been in progress for several years, and depending on my budget/whether I have it in the pantry, I cook both a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian version. Both of them are equally delicious and moreish and taste fabulous with poached eggs (with or without the toast).
3-4 rashers of the best quality bacon you can find, cubed (don’t bother with the supermarket crap, go find yourself a good-quality and better yet, German, butcher and get their bacon from a preferably organic, at minimum FREE-RANGE source. You WILL taste the difference)
3 cloves garlic
1-2 carrots, finely grated (I use a grater that looks like a regular one, but the blades are just miniature versions)
A handful of mushrooms, cubed
1/3 cup red wine
2 bay leaves
2-3 cans organic white beans, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1-2 cans tomatoes (2 if you use 3 cans of beans)
1tsp rice malt syrup/dark brown sugar/real maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Start with a large pot on a medium-high heat.
Vego: start with 1tbl rice bran oil and omit bacon
Non-vego: Without any oil (there is plenty of gorgeous fat in that beautiful bacon) add the bacon to the pan and cook, stirring until it begins to brown.
Add carrot, garlic, mushrooms and about a tsp salt (Himalayan or Murray River Pink salts have the best flavour) to the pan and cook, stirring until the mushrooms start to soften. The salt will help bring out the moisture in the vegetables which helps them to sauté, and brings out their flavour so you need less salt in the batch.
Add the red wine and stir until the fluid has evaporated, then immediately add the remainder of the ingredients and stir to combine. (You can also add a tsp balsamic vinegar in now if you like)
Bring to the boil and take down to a simmer. Stir occasionally, or if your pot is oven safe, and you feel like being truly authentic, chuck it in the oven at 180 degrees. Simmer for at least half an hour so that the flavours can truly permeate. I will admit, sometimes I only simmer for 5-10 minutes and eat those babies immediately because I just can’t wait!
These are also great made ahead of time because that extra time just does great things to the flavours. So if you feel like having friends over for breakfast/brunch, just make them the night before and heat them up in the morning.
As I said earlier, I serve my beans with poached eggs, but I also drizzle Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sometimes top with rocket if I have it. Totally BANGIN’! Give em a go!