Homemade Baked Beans

I almost titled these ‘Proper Baked Beans’, but then I realized that would be doing a great disservice to Heinz beans, which definitely have a place in my heart, and the hearts of many. However, homemade baked beans are a different thing altogether, being far more substantial, and full of vegetables, which makes them a healthier choice. Traditionally Boston baked beans are slow-cooked with a piece of bacon, which imparts a smoky flavour. Here, I’ve used smoked paprika and a little chipotle paste to provide that smokiness.

Ingredients

  • 300 g dried haricot beans
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 large brown onions, diced
  • 3 celery sticks, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 × 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp chipotle paste
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp English mustard powder
  • 1 tsp Marmite
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • a squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt and black pepper to season

Method

  1. Soak the dried beans in cold water overnight, or for at least 8 hours. Drain the water from them, and place them into a large saucepan with fresh cold water. Bring them to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently for 45 minutes to an hour – cooking time can vary hugely depending on the age and quality of the beans, so it’s important to keep an eye on them, and drain them as soon as they are al dente.
  2. Heat the oven to 150°C/fan 130°C/gas mark 2.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a large flameproof casserole dish over a medium heat, then add the carrots, onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and sauté for a further minute or two.
  4. Add the cooked haricot beans, the vegetable stock, tomato purée, tinned tomatoes, brown sugar, chipotle paste, smoked paprika, mustard powder, Marmite, and season with salt and black pepper. Stir it all together, bring to the boil, then cover and put it in the oven. Bake the beans for 2 hours, getting the dish out to stir the beans once or twice during the cooking time.
  5. Remove the dish from the oven, then stir in the pomegranate molasses and lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt and black pepper if necessary, then serve immediately or allow to cool and freeze. This is delicious eaten with garlic-rubbed sourdough toast.