A farm favourite!
Whenever we serve these beans at our Friday Feast we are asked for the recipe so due to popular demand here it is!
Pulled from the freezer or fridge, these beans,topped with an egg and served with fresh bread, make a good meal in minutes. They do, however, take hours to cook from scratch. It'll take you about 4 hours, but you can be asleep for most of this.
- 200g (7oz/1cup) dried cannellini or white/northern beans
- 2 brown onions
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 sage sprig
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 400g (14oz) slab bacon or speck, cut into 2 - 3cm (3/4-1 1/4inch) chunks
- 400g (14oz/1 2/3cups) tinned chopped tomatoes
- 1 - 2 tablespoons treacle
Put the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside to soak for at least 5 hours or preferably overnight. If you haven’t soaked the beans you can still make this recipe, the beans will just take longer to cook. Either way, rinse the beans and drain well.
Peel both onions and cut one of them into dice and set aside. Place the beans, the whole onion, garlic, sage and salt in a large saucepan and pour in enough water to cover by at least 2cm (3/4inch). Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour, or until the beans are nearly but not quite cooked. Test after 30 minutes and every 10 minutes after that.
Preheat the oven to 150C (300F/Gas 2). Drain the beans, discarding the onion, garlic and sage. Place the beans in an ovenproof dish such as a cast-iron pot or casserole dish, with the bacon, diced onion, tomatoes and treacle. Pour in just enough water so the beans are web but not swimming.
Add more salt if it needs it and a bit of freshly milled black pepper. Cover with a lid and bake slowly for 3 hours (check and reduce the oven temperature if it is boiling rapidly). I tend to turn the oven right down to 120C (234F/Gas 1/2), but some ovens can be less accurate that low. Check occasionally for moisture and top up with water to just below the level of the top beans if needed. The beans will be buttery soft but not broken if you get the temperature and water right. When the beans are done, take the lid off and taste the beans, seasoning as needed.
Increase the oven temperature up to 180C (350F/Gas4), pull whatever meats you can find to the top of the dish and continue baking for a further 30 minutes to darken the bacon and caramels the sugars.
Serve the beans hot, with some bread and perhaps a salad to break up the richness.