Smoky Baked Beans

These are truly sensational breakfast beans, the ham hock gives a superb smoky flavour. I love them with poached eggs and really good toast spread with avocado.

This recipe makes a lot – I like to freeze leftovers so I’ve got some handy for emergencies (ie, hangovers). You need to soak the beans a day in advance.  Don’t be tempted to use tinned beans, you won’t get the same result. This is a dish you do need to plan ahead for.

1 good quality smoked ham hock (get one from a really good deli – eg the Polish Deli at the Queen Vic Market – and ask for the best hock they have)

2 cups dried  beans (eg haricots, lima, kidney, borlotti, black eye, or even a mixture).

2 x 400 g can organic crushed tomatoes

1 large onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed & roughly chopped

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 carrots, diced

600 ml water or stock, plus extra water

2 fresh bay leaves

Soak the beans in cold water overnight, drain and set aside.  In a flameproof casserole dish, heat some oil and add the onions and paprika. Cook for a few minutes, stirring around to stop them burning.  Add the carrot and bay leaf, cook for five minutes, then add the garlic and stir through.  Add the beans and ham hock, the water (or stock) and the tomatoes.  Bring to a gentle boil, turn the heat right down to low, then put the lid on and simmer for 2 hours, checking regularly to see if more water needs to be added. The beans should be soft, so keep on simmering if they aren’t.  Remove the ham hock and let it cool down.  Cut the fat and skin away, cut the meat off and shred it with a knife and fork, and return the meat to the beans, stir through.   Serve with chopped parsley.

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