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This is a British take on baked beans, which means you have a tomato sauce instead of the molasses-flavoured Boston baked beans. Thanks to Lisa for helping me test this recipe.
For the beans
- 200 g dried haricot beans
- 1 onion, peeled and halved
- 3 carrots, trimmed and halved lengthways
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 teaspoons thyme
- 2 teaspoons rosemary
- 2 -3 bay leaves
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 leek, cut crossways into three pieces
- 75 g unsalted butter
For the tomato fondue
- 650 g best-quality tomatoes, skinned,deseeded and chopped (strain and reserve the juice)
- 1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 125 ml olive oil
- 25 ml sherry wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons celery seeds
- 1 -2 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
- 2 -3 drops Worcestershire sauce
- 2 -3 drops Tabasco sauce
- 10 saffron strands (optional)
- finely grated lemon, zest of, to taste
- Soak the beans overnight in cold water. The next day, cook the beans in a big pot of water for two hours. You can use the same water as you used to soak the beans. While the beans are cooking, start making the tomato sauce. You will want to use a very low heat.
- Sweat the onions and spices in the oil for 10 minutes, adding the garlic towards the end.
- Add the tomatoes, juice, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, vinegar and lemon zest.
- Cook over a very low heat for 3-4 hours.
- Half an hour into the cooking, add the saffron.
- When cooked, the fondue should be dark red and almost jam-like.
- If any oil has separated out from the dish just pour it off the top (this tomato infused oil can be kept and used for other dishes).
- When the fondue is ready, pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C.
- Purée the fondue in a blender, adding a little of the poured off oil and a touch of water, if necessary.
- The purée should be enough to cover the beans by 1-2cm.
- Put the beans in an ovenproof dish, cover with the purée and add all the other ingredients.
- Season generously.
- Cover the dish, using tin foil if you don't have a lid, and put it in the oven.
- After three hours, the beans should be cooked.
- Feel free to add extras, like smoked bacon, chorizo or sausage halfway through the cooking time.
- The cooked beans will keep for a few weeks, or even longer if you put them in a sterile preserving jar.
I made the recipe as stated. After the 3 hours in the oven, the beans were still not cooked. It did amaze me that the recipe did not state to pre-cook the beans. I think that should be done. It also does not say to soak the beans. It is best to soak the beans overnight to disable the enzyme inhibitors present in most beans. I did enjoy the flavour of the fondue.
Instead of soaking, I would suggest rinsing the beans briefly, to remove any dirt that may be on them, and then pouring BOILING WATER on top of them, until the water is two or so inches above the beans. Soaking dry beans leeches away minerals that give beans their flavor. Adding boiling water to dry beans locks in their flavor -- a bit like searing a piece of meat. Simmer (not boil) the beans uncovered over medium heat until their skins are soft (about an hour and a half), adding more HOT water as the cooking water evaporates. Salting the beans or adding the fondue before the skins are soft will make the skins tough.