Who doesn’t love baked beans? If you don’t, leave now and hang your head in shame whilst doing it because baked beans are delicious and much maligned. Beans are an accessible food, no person who tells you it’s cheaper to feed their family at McDonalds than it is to cook for them could ever claim that about beans. They are a staple of British society. What is a fry up without beans, what is toast without beans, what is cheese on toast without beans? Ok, I might be over-egging the pudding a bit here but they are undeniably a pantry staple. I challenge you all to go to your kitchen cupboard and not find some baked beans in it. Go on, off you go! (A few moments later) See, there were beans, weren’t there? Told you so.
Right, now we’ve ascertained the ubiquity of beans, onward and upwards. At the moment I am attempting to live my life on a budget and that is very hard for me. To walk past the cheese shop and not go in and buy everything in sight is a challenge of my willpower, as is, not buying the bespoke chocolate bar that I spy at Wholefoods which costs £7. However, I have been doing rather well of late. And so, this brings me to the creation of fridge beans. In the last restaurant I worked at in Australia, we had some fancy breakfast beans on the menu which were cooked for hours from nice cannellini beans with offcuts from the deli counter, chunks of pancetta and prosciutto lay languidly in the pot for hours as the rich tomatoey concoction came together. But who the heck has the time to do that at home.
So, Fiery fridge beans were born. Basically, go to the fridge and see what little nubbins of food you have skulking around. Luckily, because our fridge is generally very well stocked, there are usually a few treasures to be found, things along the lines of chorizo, smoked bacon, half a red pepper. And don’t forget the condiments, you know all those annoying jars that you buy once for a recipe and then don’t use for a year, use ’em up! I have been known to throw a dollop of redcurrant jelly or a teaspoon of apple sauce into the mix for good measure, the ultimate though is caramelised onions, which I usually also have a jar of. Beans seem to like a little sweetness in their lives.
I’m not going to give you a recipe, as the whole point of this, is that you use up what you have in the fridge. I start with the stuff I want to fry, whether that be pepper and onion with a bit of chorizo or ham chucked in. Once this is all lovely and tender and a little caramelised, add your tin of baked beans. I usually add a bit of water too so that the end product is a bit soupy and wet. Now, if you want to spice things up a bit, you can add some hot smoked paprika, a bit of cumin, whatever tickles your fancy. And throw some of those condiments in too, if you’re not sure, just add a small amount at a time and keep tasting it. Today, when I made Fiery fridge beans, I added a little too much sweet chilli sauce and it was a touch too sweet, so I just squeezed a cheek of lime in at the end. And the fiery part comes from the fact that we always have chillies around which need using up and BIL (brother in law) and I are borderline obsessed with chilli.
There you have it. What chefs really eat on their days off, or at least what this Little Chef eats on her days off. And remember, be brave, throw in whatever you fancy, leftover roast chicken, chuck it in, lonely slice of ham, add it to the mix. Get creative and add a little fire to your life!