If your only experience of baked beans on toast is with what comes out of a can, you are in for a treat. Making your own is easy, and the results are way superior to the canned variety.
This classic dish originated in Europe. On reaching North America, its evolution took a very different path. This recipe builds on the British heritage of the dish. US readers be warned!
My baked beans conditioning was with the New Zealand version: Wattie’s Baked Beans. If you clicked on that link you will have noticed the marketing department have been trying too hard (Beanz?!). The marketing people on the B-Ark in the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy come to mind.
Typically haricot beans are used to make baked beans. I used cannellini beans. They are a little bigger, and taste really good. Also, they worked very well in this white bean puree.
The beans are important, but the sauce is where most of the character of the dish comes from. Just the right amount of tomato flavour, acidity, heat, and spice. Actually there is no “right amount”. I liked the proportions in this recipe. Experiment. It’s all part of the fun.
There is no end of advice on the internet about how to make the ultimate baked beans. One particularly useful guide is provided by The Guardian.
Baked Beans on Toast
For the tomato sauce
- 400 g fresh cannellini beans OR 2 cans cannellini beans
- 1 tsp salt if using fresh beans
- 4 slices Pumpernickel bread
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup gruyere cheese grated
- Halve the red pepper and tomatoes and roast for 1 hour at 180 degC
- When the peppers and tomatoes have cooled sufficiently, remove the skins and hard cores, and coarsely chop.
- Peel and dice the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery. Saute in the butter until onion is translucent, but not starting to brown.
- Add the tomato paste and continue to saute for 5 more minutes
- Add the chilli pepper, bay leaf, star anise, paprika, cider vinegar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, water, and the chopped tomatoes and red pepper.
- Simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. It should reduce and thicken.
- Remove the star anise and bay leaf.
- Blend the tomato mixture until smooth.
If using fresh beans
- Rinse then simmer in a saucepan of water for 30 minutes.
- Add 1 tsp salt
- Simmer for another 30 minutes.
- Test to ensure they are cooked.
If using canned beans
- Drain and rinse.
Putting it together
- Add the beans to the tomato mixture and simmer for 15 more minutes.
- Toast both sides of the pumpernickel bread under the grill until getting toasty.
- Poach the eggs. This can be done earlier. The eggs can be stored in iced water after poaching, then reheated for a few minutes in hot water before serving.
- Spoon the baked beans onto the pumpernickel and top with a poached egg.
- Sprinkle on some grated cheese.