Now I love Baked Beans. But they have to be Heinz. I had a friend at school who’s father would eat cold beans, straight out of the tin, at every meal they had at home. Like they were a condiment. That’s wrong really isn’t it.
For purists of course beans out of a tin (hot or cold) are as bad as mashed potato out of a packet or instant coffee. So I thought I’d have a look at how to make ‘real beans’. And for real beans I plumbed for ‘Boston Beans’.
Now after some exhaustive research (i.e. Google) I came across about 30,000,0000 different references to Boston Beans. Apparently the traditional recipe goes way back to the Pilgrims and baked beans with pork was one of the first tinned foods.
It was a favourite in the Wild West because the beans would keep for days. I have no idea whether that is true but it allows me to insert the following clip from the timeless classic, Blazing Saddles, here:
Whatever the history of beans, the best recipe I could find was from good old Delia (we love Delia in the UK – when in doubt about how to cook something she’ll know).
For what may or may not be a traditional take on Boston Beans you’ll need:
- 1 lb dried haricot beans
- 1 tsp English (what the hell this is supposed to be American) mustard powder
- 2 tsb black treacle
- 2 tsb soft dark brown sugar
- Tomato purée
- 2 cloves garlic
- Bay leaf
- 12 oz belly of pork
- Salt and pepper
I liked this recipe because instead of soaking your beans in water overnight you just slow cook them for hours. So as long as you start it off in the morning you can leave the creation cooking all day and its ready for the evening.
Here is Delia’s method (more or less):
Boil the beans in 3 pints of water for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave until the water has cooled.
Return to the heat and simmer for 45 mins, uncovered, until the bean skins burst when you lift them out of the water.
Drain the beans, reserving the liquid, then top up to 1 pint with water.
Put the beans in a big pot with a lid and pre-heat the oven to 250°F (120°C).
Mix mustard powder with a bit of the bean liquid, together with the black treacle, brown sugar, tomato purée and crushed garlic, and pour this over the beans with the pint of stock, s&p, sliced onion and a bay leaf.
Now cut slashes across the pork and bury the meat in the beans until only the rind is showing.
Then cover the pot and bake very slowly for about 6 hours (I did 8 my oven sucks).
During the last hour of cooking, take the lid off to allow the rind on the pork to crisp (Mine was black because I cheated and smothered it with treacle and mustard).
Keep stirring the beans during this last hour and if they get dry add more water.
Serve straight up or with bread.
Beans, beans, good for your heart,
The more you eat, the more you fart,
The more you fart, the more you eat,
The more you sit on the toilet seat!