Monday, 26 November 2012

Beans beans the magical fruit...

Well, you get the idea.

Heinz baked beans are a staple in this house and probably in just about every home in England.  The fella first introduced me to beans on toast when we were living in New Zealand.  As backpackers, we saved most of our money for snowboarding, travelling, a little wine and once in a while, a fancy pants meal at one of their superb restaurants (I never would have guessed it but New Zealand has some of the most amazing food) but basic fuel for living was just that, basic!  It was all about cheap, cheap, cheap - though not so cheap that we would buy generic baked beans.  They had to be Heinz (the slogan don't lie)!  In NZ they were labelled "English Recipe" and they were the only beans allowed through the front door. 

A few months ago I spotted these at the end of the supermarket aisle:

They were on sale so I grabbed one of each flavour to have a try at home - there was also a chili flavour but that was eaten before I took this photo.  Not bad - I had never thought to spice up my beans like this before.  These are great if you fancy a different flavour but this can easily be achieved by adding a teaspoon of your desired spice or a few shakes of hot sauce or barbeque sauce.  For cheesy beans, uh... add cheese.  I'm not a convert.  I will be sticking to the original beans.

When I moved to England in 2007 , we upgraded to having beans on baked potatoes, but had never been anymore adventurous than that!  I then spotted this book in a shop and just had to get it for W.  Or rather, for him to have a skim through (lots of facts about beans - riveting stuff) and for me to get cooking with all the creative bean recipes - which you can check out here.  I haven't followed anything to the letter but the book has been a source of inspiration.  A can of beans is now my not-so-secret, secret ingredient in many of my favourite recipes.

I'm going to try and come up with some different recipes all centered around one common ingredient: (you guessed it) baked beans.  I'll share my favourites and staples around this house but also get creative and let you know what works and what doesn't.  I'll start with a time tested favourite around here: chili.

On Saturday night we had a few friends over and I made a big pot of chili (and one veggie chili for the non-meat lover; basically my regular chili without the meat and beef stock).  Not knowing how everyone liked to eat their chili; over rice or chips or in a bowl with some chunky fresh bread, I made everything.  I even threw in chili nachos for good measure.  Needless to say, we were stuffed.  I then cleared away the dishes and let everyone enjoy the evenings entertainment, which consisted of letting the 7 puppies loose around the living room and watching the madness that ensued. 

Slow-Cooker Chili (serves 4-6)

500 grams of beef mince
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 415g tin of baked beans
1 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped into large chunks (optional)
1 cup of mushrooms, sliced (optional)
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 red chili, chopped (deseeded for less spice)
1 cube of beef stock dissolved in 100ml of boiling water
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
splash of red wine (optional)

Brown the meat in a frying pan and then add to the slow-cooker.  Fry the onions until browned and add to the slow-cooker.   Toss everything else into the slow-cooker, stir, cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4.  Cooking time will really depend on what type of slow-cooker you have.  Serve over rice, or chips or nachos (or all three!) add  grated cheese and enjoy!

How do you eat your chili?  Until moving here it was always in a big bowl, covered in cheese and mopped up with fresh bread.  Now the possibilities are endless!  Anyone care to share their not-so-secret secret chili ingredient?   Or will you be taking it to the grave?


  1. This chilli is amazing. Made it yesterday and just wanted to eat it all as it was so Yummy. Thank you chloe. Love this blog. Big hugs Zoe. Xxx

    1. Thanks so much Zoe! I'm really glad you liked it! Cx