Wednesday, March 2, 2016

"Heinz" Baked Beans

As a kid, I was not a fan of beans. My mom used to put these giant black beans in our rice. They were disgustingly crunchy and had no taste so I used to purposely just throw them on the floor or stick them to the bottom of my chair. I would of course get in trouble so after a while, I would pick all the beans out and eat them at the start of the meal so I could better enjoy myself. Once, I tried swallowing them like pills and I got in a ton of trouble.

Anyway, that traumatizing experience made me write off all beans as horrible. I would ignore the pile of black beans at Mexican restaurants, I would avoid the pasta e fagioli at Italian restaurants, and I would never even look at baked beans. Fast forward to high school: my dad made a batch of chili and asked me to try it and I fell in love with the kidney beans. I discovered that I actually love black beans and red beans and refried beans, pasta e fagioli is one of my favorite soups, and baked beans are one of my favorite barbecue sides.

Across the pond, they eat Heinz baked beans all the time. At first I thought it was a little gross but after trying beans on toast, courtesy off the hostel I was staying in, I fell in love. It's a hearty enough snack that will quell my hunger enough to take me to my next meal; and when doubled to two slices, it's enough to be a complete meal.

I was tempted to add some salt pork to the pan, but I wanted to stay true to the flavors of the beans on toast I enjoyed in London - you know, trying to be authentic to the country and to my memory - so I left it out. However, if you're looking for a little more protein, you can add in some diced salt pork or bacon to the pot before anything else to render out some fat and then continue on with the recipe.
Ingredients [yields 3 cups]:
1 cup dried navy beans
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons canola oil
½ onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
14.5 oz. tinned whole tomatoes
¼ cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
¼ cup ketchup
pinch nutmeg
1 tablespoon butter
+ toast (for beans on toast)

Start by soaking the beans in water and baking soda overnight. Then, rinse and drain the beans. Pour into a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30 minutes or until they're just shy of being tender.
Chop up some onion and garlic and get a pan heating over medium.
Add some oil to the skillet and toss in the onions and garlic. Cook until softened. Pour in the cooked beans and the tinned tomatoes and squish the tomatoes a bit with a spoon. Add in Worcestershire, sugar, ketchup, and red wine vinegar and stir. Reduce the heat and allow the beans to simmer for about an hour or until they're soft and the sauce is thickened.
Finish the beans by stirring in a pat of butter and a few grates of nutmeg.
These beans are lovely and sweet and actually remind me of the Heinz beans I love. I mean, the tomatoes and seasonings basically yield ketchup anyway, and by squeezing in some actual ketchup, it helps thicken up the sauce nicely. The beans themselves are soft and this is so much better the next day when they've had a chance to soak up more of the flavors of the sauce. They're great on their own, on toast (see below), and as an addition to a delicious fry up (which I'm sharing tomorrow).

Beans, beans, they're delicious. By the way, the baking soda helps reduce the sugars that make beans give us gas, so that hilarious childhood poem does not apply to this recipe, thanks.
To make beans on toast, all you have to do is make some toast, pile on some beans, and if you're like me, you'll sprinkle on some fresh cracked pepper.
I know this is a weird concept; like beans on toast, why?! But it's actually really good and it's a totally satisfying snack. And it could be a satisfying meal if you double up (and maybe add a fried egg on top).
Here's the recipe page:

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