Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Baked beans but…

…with flavor. At least that’s how Belle characterized them and so this page is for her.

If you are a good planner and know in advance that you are going to make these beans, soak white cannelini beans for several hours (overnight?). If not wash them and proceed directly to do next step. Put them in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil along with a bay leaf and any other easily discardable flavor ingredient you might favor . Celery stalks, fennel stalks and fronds, spring of rosemary, an onion, some garlic (peel and all), ditto with ginger …your choice…  whatever you have handy or nothing at all. Do NOT add salt at this juncture. When the water comes to a boil, drain the beans, discarding the water and repeat a few times (3-4). The beans will be partly or mostly cooked but not quite tender. Bring to a final boil in a pot with some salt and the bay leaf and this time keep it on a mild simmer. As the beans are simmering, heat up some olive oil in a saucepan and Add 1-2 large hot peppers slit lengthwise to the oil and as it blisters add your preferred spices (freshly powdered/crushed) and stir gently to roast mildly but not burn. On this particular occasion I used crushed fennel seeds and oregano, another time it was oregano, black pepper (coarse) and the insides of the garlic pods I had used while boiling the beans earlier. Then add tomato puree and stir until mixed. Season to taste with salt, cayenne, and some molasses or honey or maple-syrup (you get the picture… basically something sweet. Just use just plain sugar if nothing else is handy – but do stir the sugar around in the warmed pan for a few minutes to semi-caramelize it). Add the drained cooked beans (probably much softer now) and mix well.

At this stage you have two options. You could just top the mixture with more water and allow to simmer (or pressure cook) with some added olive oil for added flavor and richness. My choice is to turn the beans into an oven-proof dish – I used my earthenware pot – make sure there is enough liquid and then top with a layer of olive oil before sealing and baking the whole ensemble (they are called baked beans for a reason) in a low heat for some hours. Another option is of course an electric slow-cooker/crock pot.

And there you have it, baked beans just like the English breakfast item or the stuff from Boston, but with flavor. Mucho gusto amigos.

1 Comment»

[…] them as “like English baked beans but with flavor.” I’m adding the recipe here in a new chapter I thought I’d add to my roster called “Twists in the theme.” […]

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