I admit to liking some really crap food. For example, even though I know it's dreadful, I have a soft spot for canned spaghetti with "sausages". Canned baked beans, however.... Ergh. I've never liked canned baked beans and I'm not sure why. I love beans. I love things that have been stewed in tomato based sauces. But canned baked beans? Yuck.
So when I picked up a couple of ham hocks, I wanted to try making my own baked beans. My first attempt was a dismal failure - not because it didn't taste good, but because the beans I used disintegrated in the cooking process and it became a bean soup. It was a tasty bean soup but it wasn't baked beans.
On my second attempt, I used dried cannellini beans and this turned out much better. So much better that I ate it three meals in a row....!
Homemade baked beans
400g dried cannellini beans, covered with plenty of water and soaked overnight
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and finely diced
3 celery sticks, finely diced
1 medium onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves crushed garlic
800g canned whole tomatoes
2 tablespoons treacle (I wanted to use molasses, but I only had treacle in the cupboard)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ham hock, skin and fat removed
Salt + pepper
Drain the cannellini beans and give them a quick rinse. Set aside.
In a large pot, heat the oil and cook the celery, carrots and onion on a medium-low for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the crushed garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the tomatoes, treacle, sugar, bay leaf, ham hock and beans to the pot. Add enough water to just cover and let it come to the boil. Turn it down to a simmer and let it cook gently over a low heat until the beans are soft (I did this in my magic/thermal pot - it will probably take an hour or two on the stove.)
When the beans are soft, remove the ham hock, shredding any meat and adding it back to the beans. Season well with salt and pepper and serve with crusty bread.