homemade baked beans – a bit fancier and healthier than Heinz

Before I start, let me say that as a Brit it would take a lot to dent my love of Heinz Baked Beans. But living somewhere where a can costs five times as much as they do in the UK means beans have become a huge treat in our house. Something we have to really, really know we’re going to appreciate before we crack open one of the cans we bring back from our trips home. Funny what can become a luxury. My desire to make my own baked beans was partly down to this scarcity of Heinz and also to see if I could make something a little healthier than the ones in a can.

I won’t pretend these beans taste the same as Heinz but they keep the core of Heinz with an extra sophisticated level of gorgeousness. And yes, they are much healthier. Cooking a big batch is a nice weekend project and they freeze well ready for quick lunches. I have been known to thin them down with a little chicken stock to make a thick bean soup too. You can make them veggie by leaving out the pancetta.

I serve these  in the same way as I serve my Heinz beans. On thickly toasted sourdough with an olive oil fried soft egg on top. Something for the kids and for the inner child in all of us.

1 tablespoon olive oil
6oz (170g) pancetta cut into half inch cubes (or bought ready chopped)
1 onion, finely diced (see my video of how)
2 cloves garlic, sliced
3 sprigs thyme
2x 14oz (2x 400g) cans chopped tomatoes (salt free)
1 red chili finely sliced (or a pinch of chili flakes)
1 tablespoon HP or A1 sauce
1 tablespoon Heinz tomato ketchup (use Simply Heinz stateside to avoid nasty high fructose corn syrup)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Colmans’ English mustard
2x 14oz (2x 400g) cans cannellini beans [or navy beans]
a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons real maple syrup

You can pick up all the equipment I use through my shop.

To make
1. Heat a heavy based pan. I used my Le Creuset. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and the pancetta. Cook for around 5 minutes until the pancetta crisps and releases most of its fat
2.  While the pancetta cooks, chop your onion and garlic. Then add the garlic and onion to the cooked pancetta and continue cooking for around 5 minutes until the onion softens and turns golden.
3.  Add the tomatoes, thyme, chili, mustards, ketchup, salt and pepper and HP or A1 sauce then simmer (lid off) for around 20 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes to stop anything sticking.
4.  Add the drained beans and stir again. Simmer for 10 minutes (or up to 30 minutes) on a low heat with a lid on the pan. Add the maple syrup then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve on toast or thin with stock to serve as a soup.

I’d love to see what you end up with, so remember to share this on my Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest when you make it. Tag it #ystcook so I can see!