Wednesday 28 March 2018

Beanz Meanz Heanz

This trio needs no introduction to English Speakers of a Certain Age. Among their many skits was the celebration of the humble Baked Bean in the form of spoof television advertisements for the tinned variety. Oh, how we laughed merrily, but the parody was not meant to be unkind because there cannot be an Anglo-Saxon alive who doesn't love tinned baked beans.

We, in the Pipistrello household, don't consume such things any more, for no particular reason other than we make our own versions from time to time. Mr P. travels the Appian Way with his, cooked in the pot and known simply as fagioli. It is his mother's earthy recipe, redolent with rosemary and fennel seed and done with a combination of cannellini and borlotti beans, and probably recognisable to any time-travelling Roman legionnaire. And very delicious it is, too.

Mine is a very reliable recipe, courtesy of Jill Dupleix's 1998 cookbook, Favourite Food. This is closer to Ye Olde English version, sweetened shamelessly with brown sugar and maple syrup, and balanced out with a bit of cured pork and Worcestershire Sauce. The recipe got a whirl this week as I've been impatient for cooler weather meals in spite of the persistent Indian Summer we are (truly) enjoying and really fancied a bowl of baked beans with grilled cheese on toast for dinner. Yes, sophisticated.

The only tweaks to this batch were the substitution of borlotti beans for white beans, as it was what I had to hand, and the omission of "extra" brown sugar to glaze the top after slow baking because that's just crazy talk. So is the notion of "discarding" the onion used to flavour the simmering dried beans - it's destined for the stock pot.

A rummage around the refrigerator produced the requisite porky bit in the form of the end of my first experiment with home-made bacon. To be sure, it was of an indeterminate age but it has been convincingly masquerading as pancetta for a goodly while now and it was perfect for this recipe.

As Ms. Dupleix prefaces the recipe in my well-thumbed copy of her cookbook, "Do not wake up in the morning and spontaneously decide to have this for breakfast [dinner]. Instead, wake up yesterday morning and decide to have it for breakfast [dinner] today." Good things do take a bit of time. And as the recipe feeds 6 [4], we did it all over again last night, as a meal known as a Groundhog Day Dinner in this household.

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Bats In The Belfry