Most British recipes for Boston baked beans just use a piece of pork belly, but we think it needs some salted or smoked meat to counteract the sweetness, so we include bacon or pancetta. We’ve based the recipe on one our mothers used to make – when they weren’t opening a tin. The alcohol isn’t authentic, but adds flavour (we’ve tried all three).
This takes a long time to cook, but once it’s in the oven there’s nothing more to do. It makes quite a large amount and can be reheated the next day for your breakfast, brunch, lunch or supper. We think it makes the most wonderful cooked breakfast or side dish with sausages.
- 500g/1lb 2oz dried haricot beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
- 300g/10½oz piece pork belly, cut into thick chunks
- 100g/3½oz smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, cut into thick slices
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 100ml/3½fl oz red wine, sherry or bourbon (optional)
- 4 cloves
- 1 blade mace
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 thyme sprig
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 3 tbsp black treacle or molasses
- 1 tbsp English mustard
- dash Tabasco (optional)
- dash Worcestershire sauce (optional)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the beans in a large ovenproof pan or casserole and add enough cold water to just cover them. Bring to the boil and skim off any foam that appears on the top, then boil fiercely for 20 minutes. Turn down the heat and simmer for a further 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2.
Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, add the pork and bacon and dry fry until the fat starts to render and the meat has browned. Add this to the casserole with the beans. Fry the onion in the same pan until softened and starting to caramelise, then add this too. Deglaze the pan with the wine, sherry or bourbon, if using, or a little water, scraping up any brown bits. Pour this into the casserole.
Tie the cloves, mace, bay and thyme into a piece of muslin, and drop into the casserole. Stir in the tomatoes, black treacle and mustard. Add the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, if using, and season well with salt and pepper.
Cover the casserole and place in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the lid and cook for a further 1 hour. The beans should be very tender and the sauce nicely thickened. Remove the muslin bag before serving.