Tinned foods were a major feature in my childhood. My mum embraced them with all the fervour of a 1950’s housewife, or a housewife living in a rural Scottish community in the 1970’s with two of the fussiest children ever. Either way is good. What she really wanted was to provide us with made from scratch nutritious meals but what she got was a furious refusal to consume anything which did not have a branded label. We would examine every meal, picking through relentlessly with forks, to ensure there were no offending foods (onions, the worst!) and if a mere fragment was discovered it was raised and thrust accusingly at her. How my mum coped I’m not sure. Oh wait. I do. Tinned food. It was probably all of our saviours. There were no offending textures in our tinned food (except when my mum would attempt to mix in something extra like homemade soup to my Heinz cream of tomato but we knew, oh yes we knew). One of the only textured foods I would eat was baked beans and between them and the aforementioned soup they sustained me through my formative years. I suspect it was the sweetness of them which was the clincher. It was a bit like eating pudding as a main course.
Fast forward some number of undisclosed years and these days I find them less appealing and it’s the sweetness which now turns me right off them. The concept of beans slow cooked in a rich tomato sauce is appealing and few other foods are so versatile making them a suitable accompaniment for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now I want a deeply savoury sauce with a rich tomato sauce thickened by long slow cooking and not cornflour; a sauce where the herbs and spices blend to create a depth of flavour instead of simply a cloying sweetness.
I attempted to make my dream beans and they were good but not great. I blame it on my choice of bean. I used black eyed beans, only because I had them handily cooked and frozen, but as always I forgot that they are a strong tasting bean and they overpowered the other flavours. I will be revisiting this, possibly multiple times, over the winter months and already have great plans. I’ll be sure to share.