I’m pretty excited about this one. Baked beans have been one of my pantry staples since first leaving home and I have always wondered if it’s a bit of a ‘cop out’ to buy them in the tin. This was a little experimentation involving two recipes – a quick one and a long one (the latter involving 5 hours of cooking).
The results were interesting, both beating the tinned variety hands down. The quick recipe maybe taking 5 minutes longer than what it would to heat up a tin, so fresh in flavour and more nutritional too.
The slow cooked beans were seriously good and well worth me getting up at 4am to start the cooking process. This isn’t that unusual for me on a weekend as I feel excited to get up and out and seeing as it was also Anzac day – it was nice to watch the proceedings on the TV whilst we waited. I love the feeling that something is in creation and the aromas wafting into the bedroom from the kitchen were a teaser for good things to come.
We went out at 8am to get coffee and a kind lady on a nearby bench informed us with a commanding tone that the supermarket was not opening until 1pm. I think she was having a fine time in the sun, watching suckers like us walking into the glass doors and felt appreciated when she had done her informing. A slight glitch but ended up working in our favour, as we booked our little ‘go get’ car and drove to Lygon Street, where you can always rely on some good delis to be open. We found some nice bread and saffron in a typical Italian deli and then came across a pretty special grocers in Brunswick Street, where we picked up some more bread (we like bread) and the veg required for the coleslaw that I’d planned for later that day.
Back home to the beans, which by that time had darkened and reached the perfect consistency. I filled two terracotta bowls and made a well in the middle before cracking in the egg and cooked them slowly until the yolk still wobbled and the whites had set.
We sat on the floor, eating on the coffee table and it was a morning I will never forget.
Boston Beans – Serves 4 largish bowls but keep for up to 2 weeks in the fridge in a sealed container and freeze very well
Weigh the beans and soak in cold water in the fridge over night.
Preheat oven to 140°C, drain and rinse the beans before putting in a casserole or heavy oven proof dish with lid. Pour in enough water to cover the beans by about 3cm and boil hard for about 10 minutes. Lower heat to a gentle simmer, cover with the lid and simmer for about 1 hour until the beans are tender but not completely soft. Remove from the heat.
Leave the rind on the pork belly and cut into 4cm cubes. Stir the pork into the beans with the sugar, treacle and mustard. Peel the onions/shallots and press 4 cloves into one of them before adding them all to the beans. Season well with black pepper, but wait on the salt at this stage.
Ensure the beans are just covered by adding a little hot water if necessary.
Replace the lid on the pot and bake in the oven for 3 hours then remove lid and drag the pork to the top before returning to the oven uncovered for a further hour. Now season to taste with salt and more pepper if needed. Take out the cloves, if you can find the clovey onion.
Spoon the beans into oven proof bowls, making a well in the centre for an egg. Bake in the oven for a further 15 minutes, or until the whites are firm and the yolk wobbles.
Serve with crusty bread. I added coriander and chilli flakes to mine.