“Heinz Style” Baked Beans….On Toast

I look like a retarded muppet rescued from the Alberta oil sands.  Yes, today my hair “cut & style” was that bad. I sent Mike a text on my way back from the salon to convey that my experience was the rotten apple on top of a shit sundae of a day, and he wrote back some typically supportive message about how it couldn’t be THAT bad.  Then I got home.  He wrapped me up in his arms, shuddering ever so slightly from his barely contained snickers, and told me, “Babe, I think that you look beautiful.  No matter what.” I thought about the product-happy harpy who had had me belted down and aesthetically vulnerable just minutes before, and I started to feel litigious.

This experience cost me $65. I paid $65 to look like I’ve been playing dress up with Nell. I’m not sure if this qualifies as stupidity or simply masochistic behavior.  It’s difficult to say.

When I got home, I needed some comfort food. But….I didn’t really want to cook.  Enter the joy of baked beans, a pot of which can be prepared in advance and easily satisfy your need for rib-sticking satiety for days to come. The British are pros when it comes to comfort food, with lots of stodgy greats like meaty pot pies, curries, bangers and mash, and a proliferation of things on toast. When you get tired of ‘cheese on toast’ and ‘fries on toast’ (the great “Chip Buddies” that dreams and cholesterol grievances both spring from), you still have good old fashioned ‘beans on toast’ to warm your belly.

The traditional beans are, and must be, Heinz baked beans.  To a die-hard Brit there is simply no rival to that little turquoise can.  I am inclined to agree based on the principle that the flavors of childhood stick with us and stay our favorites through adult life more often than not.  Despite not having a glimmer of the UK coursing through my veins, I also grew up on Heinz baked beans and I’m perfectly happy eating them cold straight out of the can (usually when I’m feeling sorry for whatever recent tragic twist my life has taken). However, a close proximity to Heinz baked beans lies only as far away as your pantry and slow cooker.  This may not be the real McCoy, but equally good Heinz-like beans are nothing to sniff at; just something to swallow.

“Heinz Style” Baked Beans

  • 1 lb dry navy beans
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp molasses
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 660 ml (22 oz) passata *
  • 6 cups liquid **
  • salt and pepper to taste

* Passata refers to sieved or strained tomatoes, where the skinned tomatoes have been passed through a fine mesh and most of the pulp and seeds are discarded.  If you do not have passata, thin 2 cups of crushed tomatoes with 3/4 cup water.  Please do not use diced or chopped tomatoes, because you want the sauce to be smooth.

** A good vegetarian option is to just use water.  Generally, I split the liquid with 2 cups of beef stock and 4 cups of water, or half chicken stock and half water, but I tried it with plain old H2O this time and was quite pleased with the results.

Put the beans in a large bowl and pour water over them until the meniscus is about 2″ above the level of the beans.  Add a pinch (1/8 tsp) of baking soda to the water and leave the beans to soak over night, or for up to 12 hours.  Don’t skimp on the soaking time because the more moisture they take in before cooking, the better.  After soaking, drain the beans thoroughly and discard the liquid.

Grate an onion and place the pulp and juices into the bowl of your slow cooker.  Press or pulverize your garlic and add it as well, along with the brown sugar, molasses, Wooster sauce, cider vinegar, tomato paste and bay leaf.

Stir the mixture until it is combined.  Add in the drained beans, passata (strained tomatoes), and liquid.

Cook the mixture on high heat for 7-9 hours, or until the beans are tender and have absorbed the bulk of the liquids.  Give the beans a stir after 6 hours, and every now and then afterward (no more than once every hour or two) to reincorporate the liquids as the beans tend to sink while the sauce floats on top.

Depending on how fresh your dried beans were, and how long you left them to soak, they may need a bit less time or a bit more time.  I always like to err on the side of caution when it comes to dried beans, and just over 8 hours at high heat works perfectly in my slow cooker.

If you don’t have a slowcooker these beans can easily be made in a Dutch oven with moderate heat.  Reduce the overall cooking time accordingly and be sure to check and add more water if they start to look dry.  Traditional Heinz style baked beans are tomato rich and slightly stewy, so you don’t want them to get too thick.

Season the beans with salt to taste, and pepper if you really feel the yen.

These beans are delicious scooped up with salty tortilla chips for a snack, or served on the side of a good stodgy English Fry Up, but my preference is for the perennial favorite:  beans on toast.

Making beans on toast is highly complicated, as you might imagine.  I mean, first you have to make (or reheat) your beans.  Then you have to make your toast.  THEN you have to put your beans on your toast. I know, right? But all that effort is worth it in the end.

As we keep on plugging through FIFA World Cup (and Saucer) month, I’m fairly certain that half the English team would be inclined to agree.

Sweet, tomato rich and comforting baked beans are a blessing that should really be enjoyed more often than just at Sunday brunch.  For example, maybe the next time that *you* get a ridiculous haircut that makes you look like a love child between Edward Scissorhands and Bob Marley’s aunt, you’ll think, “Mmmm….beans…..”

  • erica

    Passata = tomato paste? Or tomato paste thinned down?

    Sounds delish. Also bear in mind if you’re making this for a strict vegetarian, Worcestershire sauce is not veg since it’s made with anchovies. There is veg wooster sauce available here in the US (I’ve only found it at Whole Foods, of course) and it’s an ok substitute but also usually requires the addition of some soy sauce to get that truly salty/tangy/puckery punch of nice wooster sauce.

    And, my sympathies on the hair fiasco. It happened to me when I was pregnant and couldn’t do anything about it for about three months because, well, I had this tiny baby who wouldn’t let me go to the salon. The thought of those photos still haunts me.

  • Marie

    OH my god you are so funny, and I love your blog. I had beans on toast for the first time as a kid visiting in Ireland and I still bust them out for comfort food. I’ve never ventured to make them from scratch, but I will have to give your recipe a go since these look so good.

  • http://www.eatatburp.com lo

    Oh, dear. I think that same harpy has belted me down and attacked my hair on at least one occasion. I’m laughing right along with you my dear. Thank goodness hair grows!

    Love a nice pot of baked beans, and it’s one of my favorite uses for the crockpot. Gotta love that thick, rich flavor that only a good molasses delivers. YUM. I’d eat these for breakfast right now with an egg cooked in the middle.

  • Tom

    These look great – and I agree with your “things on toast = good” theory!

    (Oh, but just FYI, it’s chip butties, or one chip butty in the singular, not “buddies”).

  • Jason

    Sorry about the haircut. Although be glad your new-sylist experience happened on a day that was not the morning of your wedding day, as happened to a good friend… one bad idea to avoid in your wedding planning. Regardless, it’s still crap and good on Mike for putting on a (Italian futbol team) game face.

    My wife is a huge fan of sweet baked beans and two close friends who migrated from England have both introduced us to variations of your English Fry-Up… though neither brought up Blood Sausage, which I think speaks volumes about their character and evolving English culinary tastes. I like the viscosity of the beans in the pictures, since Heinz seems too watery to me, but is this more a factor of the recipe, or reheating your beans after several days of continuing to soak up the liquid do you think?

  • Liliana

    OH my god you are so funny, and I love your blog. I had beans on toast for the first time as a kid visiting in Ireland and I still bust them out for comfort food. I’ve never ventured to make them from scratch, but I will have to give your recipe a go since these look so good.

  • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

    Sorry for the slow responses, guys!

    Marie/Liliana – thank you for checking out our site! Beans on toast are truly one of the things that childhood memories are made of….even if one of you is most surely a Spambot…

    Jason – jeepers, I’m worried enough about getting my curls STYLED on my wedding day, let alone CUT! If Heinz style beans are too soupy for you, these ones will be too. The first day there were nice and loose like Heinz from a can. Your hypothesis was correct – they firm up after a day or two in the fridge.

    Erica – “passata” is like strained tomatoes. You could use crushed tomatoes or tomato paste thinned (significantly) with water if you prefer, but the flavor of passata is much milder and fresher. Think of parboiled tomatoes passed through a food mill.

    Tom – Isn’t that neat! Why “butties”, do you think? Maybe because sometimes the bread is buttered? I always thought people were saying “buddies”, because they really are as comforting as an old friend 😉

    Lo – it IS breakfast time right now, and your mention of an egg cooked in beans is making me drool.

  • http://foodientravelbug.blogspot.com Mei Teng

    I love baked beans. They’re comfort food.

  • Happyveggie25

    I made these in the slow cooker as directed, they took forever, after 12 hrs I gave up, they were still a bit firm. However, the taste was delicious, with a bit of salt, everyone enjoyed them, I will try again.

  • Cheryl

    These look fabulous! I once lived in a hotel in China for months on end and the folks I hung out with from Belfast introduced me to beans on toast with an egg “over-easy” on top… there was never anything so comforting for an out-of-her-element Yank as the goodness that was the runny egg yolk mixing with the tomato sauce of the beans and getting sopped up by the toast! Now I live in Paraguay and we only rarely get US or British products in the stores here, so I’m definitely going to give these a go!! Thanks for sharing!

  • Tim

    Making this today for the first time. The sauce tastes awesome so far. I make a lot of beans for my family of seven. This morning I had beans and toast for the first time ever with some cajun red beans and found it to be delicious. I cannot wait to serve this to the family tomorrow for breakfast!

  • Wendy

    Thank you THANK YOU for this recipe. I often get a craving for good old Heinz Beanz but I live in a rural area with little grocery variety, and every attempt I have made to make them on my own hasn’t been close. I have been looking for a recipe for years, I am so glad to have stumbled across yours.

  • Wendy

    Thank you THANK YOU for this recipe. I often get a craving for good old Heinz Beanz but I live in a rural area with little grocery variety, and every attempt I have made to make them on my own hasn’t been close. I have been looking for a recipe for years, I am so glad to have stumbled across yours.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Wendy, thank you for stopping by! I don’t think that you will be disappointed with this recipe, but I hope that you enjoy them as much as we do!!

  • Squeaky

    These are great. And being a super cheapskate, I had to figure out the cost. It worked out to about 50-70¢ a can (I didn’t get super exact once I realized it was super cheap) and where we live a can of Heinz costs $1.20-$1.50. So, yay. And Yum.

  • nonannystate

    Anyone looking to make their own “Heinz” beans at home, this recipe comes out NOTHING like Heinz beans, either the English or American kinds.
    You may or may not like this recipe, but please don’t assume like I did that because this author says they are “Heinz-like” it is true.
    Hint: Heinz beans do not have worcestershire sauce and do have mustard.

    • http://www.choosy-beggars.com Tina

      Nonannystate – I’m sorry that this recipe did not appeal to you. You clearly have a lot of passion about Heinz beans, and there’s nothing wrong with that! We find the flavour to be very similar to the Heinz beans that we also love, but understand that different people will have different perspectives and that’s okay. Good luck in your search for a recipe that tastes right to you!