Homemade baked beans

24 November 2010
I made baked beans and pork last week. It was delicious and very filling. Recipes for baked beans are similar but you can change the recipe to suit your own tastes. If you like hot beans, add fresh chilli, or chilli flakes; if you like a mustard taste, increase the mustard. This is a great frugal family recipe that can be frozen or served again the following day and it will taste even better than the first day's serving. Do it from scratch, don't substitute canned beans because you'll be robbing yourself of the real experience. Everyone should taste real baked beans at some time during their life.

You'll need navy|haricot beans because they'll take on the flavours you add while keeping their shape, more or less, over the long cooking period. Wash the beans and discard the water, then soak the beans in water overnight. Don't add salt to the water because you'll harden the beans; you'll be adding all your delicious flavourings and seasonings later.

2 cups uncooked navy beans that have been soaked overnight
2 litres|quarts water
1 large onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon mustard powder
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses or treacle
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
pork of some kind - this can be leftover from another meal, or bacon, ribs, pork chops or shoulder. Use whatever is a cheap cut that week at the butchers or whatever you have as leftovers. If the pork is uncooked, cook it in a frying pan first, then put to one side.

After the beans have been soaked, discard the water, add the beans to a large pot and add the water, bay leaves and the quartered onion. No seasonings at this point. Bring the beans to the boil, then simmer for about an hour. If you cooked the pork in a frying pan, use that in the next step. Add the diced onion and saute for a couple of minutes, add the mustard and stir it in, cook for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook for two minutes, while stirring. This will increase the flavour and get rid of that sharp tomato taste. Then add the rest of the flavourings - the brown sugar, molasses, sauce, salt and pepper, stir it all until well combined and add one cup of water to bring it all together.

Now you have to transfer everything to either a slow cooker, cast iron pot or casserole dish with a lid. Drain the beans and place them in the pot, mix in the flavourings, then cut the pork and add it. Mix well to combine. Have a test taste to make sure you have your seasonings exactly right. Adjust to suit, then either turn on the slow cooker (low setting) or put the pot in the oven on a low setting. Cook very slowly for at least six hours. It is the slow cooking of this dish that makes the difference. It allows all the flavours to fully develop. During the cooking process, stir the beans occasionally.

This very homely meal can be served with salad but we like it with crusty homemade bread. Perfect! It's one of the best winter meals, but it's also a winner at other times, so don't only serve it when you're cold.