Home-made Baked Beans

I got a very strange look the other day: “What are you making?” was the question; “Baked beans” was the answer. There was no tin in sight, just a pressure cooker doing its thing with some dried haricot beans while the delicious aroma of a tomato sauce was filling the air.

“You’re actually making them, aren’t you, from scratch?” Um, yes I was, but why?

I admit it, there is no real need to make baked beans, the tinned variety are delicious after all. The pointlessness of the whole process is underlined by the fact that this recipe tastes exactly like a certain market-leading tinned variety. So why make them?

Why not? I like a challenge, and it took a lot of tweaking to finalise this recipe. The whole point was just to have a little fun in the kitchen. They are delicious though, and the sauce freezes well so you can make a big batch of sauce, freeze it in portions and just add haricot beans to it when you come to use it.

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RECIPE – Serves 6 

450g dried haricot beans, soaked overnight

2 tbsp vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stick, finely chopped

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

2 1/2 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 1/2 tsp cornflour

300ml just-boiled water

20g unsalted butter


METHOD

Soak the beans overnight in cold water. The next day drain and then rinse the beans well in running water. Place the beans in a large pan and cover with fresh cold water, bring to the boil and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. If you have a pressure cooker the job is much quicker; follow the instructions for your own device, but mine takes around 12 minutes to cook the beans.

To make the sauce, put the oil and garlic in a large, cold pan then heat gently until the garlic is aromatic. Add the carrot and celery, cover with a cartouche and soften for around 20 minutes.

*Tip: Sweating vegetables under a piece of parchment is known as using a cartouche. It is a way of cooking that simultaneously sweats and steams the vegetables, extracting maximum flavour in minimum time.

Cut a square of baking parchment that is slightly larger than the surface area of your pan, push it down so it sits on top of your sweating vegetables and then tuck the sides down so the vegetables are completely covered. Keep the heat low and after a few minutes check to see that nothing is catching on the bottom of the pan, then re-cover and continue to sweat them until they are as soft as you need them to be and the aroma is filling your kitchen.

Heat the oven to 200C/ Fan 180C/ gas 4.

Remove the parchment, add the tinned tomatoes and tomato ketchup, season well and simmer for ten minutes. Allow to cool slightly then use a blender to blitz to a smooth puree. Put the puree into an ovenproof dish or casserole.

Mix the cornflour with a little cold water to make a paste, add to the puree and stir thoroughly, then add 300ml just-boiled water and the cooked beans. Stir thoroughly, check and adjust the seasoning, put a lid on the casserole and place it in the oven for 20 minutes.

To serve: bring it to the table in the casserole, stir in the butter and enjoy.

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