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Heston Blumenthal: Baked Beans

Vegetarian Recipes: Baked Beans by Heston Blumenthal

Serves 4
Preparation time less than 30 mins
Cooking time over 2 hours

Buy the best-quality pulses you can, and just have a glance through the packet to make sure there are as few cracks in the beans as possible. Once made, these beans will keep for a few weeks.

For the tomato fondue

  • 1 onion, very finely chopped
  • 125ml/4fl oz extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ star anise
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 heaped tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • bouquet garni consisting of thyme, celery leaf, parsley and bay leaf tied with a strip of leek
  • 650g/1lb 6oz best-quality tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped, the juices strained and reserved
  • a few drops of Tabasco
  • a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 25ml/1fl oz best-quality sherry vinegar
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 10 strands of saffron (optional)

For the beans

  • 200g/7oz dried haricot beans 
  • 1 onion, halved and studded with 2 cloves 
  • 3 carrots, halved lengthways 
  • 3 cloves garlic 
  • bouquet garni (thyme, rosemary, bay leaf) 
  • 1 stick of celery 
  • 1 leek, cut crossways into 3 pieces
  •  75g/3oz unsalted butter 
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 

How to make Baked Beans:

1. For the fondue, sweat the onion in the olive oil with the spices for 10 minutes on a very low heat. Add the garlic and bouquet garni and continue to sweat for another 5 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, tomato juices, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, ketchup and vinegar, then add the lemon zest and cook on a very low heat for 3-4 hours, adding the saffron, if using, 45 minutes into the cooking time. When cooked, the fondue should be dark red and almost jam-like. Don't worry if any oil has split out of the mix, it can just be poured off. In fact this oil will be delicious and can be used in many dishes.

3. Preheat the oven to 110C/225F/Gas ½. Purée the tomato fondue in a blender with a little of the oil from the fondue. There should be enough purée to cover the beans by 1-2cm.

4. Put the beans into an ovenproof dish. Cover with the tomato purée and add all the other ingredients. Season generously.

5. Cover the dish, using kitchen foil if you have no lid, and place it in the oven. After 3 hours, turn off the oven and leave the beans to cool down. Serve.