The grape-vine cutters who prune during winter deserve a warming pot of beans, and these beans are hearty enough to be served as a main meal. This dish is best, of course, cooked over the dried prunings from last year, but your oven inside works just as well. Soak the beans overnight.
- 400 g (2 cups) dried white beans (such as great northern or haricot), soaked overnight
- 500 g smoky bacon, rind removed, cut into 2 cm pieces
- 400 g can chopped tomatoes
- 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- 1 rosemary sprig
- 5 garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp brown sugar (optional)
- crusty bread, to serve
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Preheat oven to 120°C. Drain the beans and place in a large ovenproof dish with a lid. Add bacon, tomatoes, wine, bay leaves, rosemary, garlic and 1litre water. If the dish is flameproof, heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes or until mixture comes to the boil. (This speeds up the cooking by about 45 minutes.) The beans should be covered with liquid so add more water if necessary.
Cover the dish, place in the oven and cook for 2 hours. Remove lid, stir to make sure it’s not sticking, and season with salt and pepper.
Cover, return to oven and cook, checking and stirring occasionally, for a further 2 hours, or until beans are tender. (As beans become more tender, try to only stir when needed.)
To finish, it can be nice to remove the lid and pull the pieces of bacon to the top of the beans and let them caramelise a bit. Stir in the brown sugar if you like a little more sweetness with your baked beans. Serve with crusty bread.
As seen in Feast magazine, Issue 11, pg34.
Photography by Alan Benson.