Baked Beans

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This is a slow recipe, not a spur of the moment item like its famous counterpart in the turquoise can. Boston baked beans, of which this is a version, are quite sweet and the two main flavours other than sugar are mustard and tomato. Any other addition is a matter of personal preference. During a stint in the kitchen of a Hungarian restaurant I developed a liking for their baked beans which included a fair amount of paprika, smoked pork and goose fat. Serve these with fatty, rich meats like duck.

Ingredients

  • 500g (1lb 2oz/3 cups) dried haricot or navy beans
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 tablespoons tomato passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 150g (5 oz) fatty bacon, in one piece
  • 75g (3 oz/½ cup lightly packed) soft brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • a dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt

Method

Soak the beans overnight in double their volume of water. Next day, bring the beans to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain, then rinse in cold water.

Heat the oven to 150°C (300°F/Gas 2). In a small pan, fry the onion and garlic in the oil, then stir in the paprika, followed by the tomato passata and mustard.

Put the piece of bacon in a heavy casserole and add the drained beans, onion mixture, then the sugar and molasses.

Pour in enough water to keep the beans moist – about 250ml (9fl oz/1 cup) should do – then cover and bake for 5 hours. Each hour, stir the beans and top up the water.

Finally, at the end of cooking, add salt to taste and a good dash of Worcestershire sauce.

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