While this is far from a quick recipe for baked beans, the end product is well worth the time needed.
I've decided to use Flageolet for no particular reason other than I quite like them - you can naturally use the more normal haricot bean . As I'm using dried beans, they first need to be soaked overnight in an ample quantity of water to help lessen the cooking time. Once again you could take the faster route and use cooked canned beans.
Flageolet beans, soaked overnight
1 onion, finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 carrot, finely sliced
1 stalk celery, finely diced
diced tomatoes, fresh or tinned
stock or water
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
maple syrup, optional
In a large pot heat up olive oil and a knob of butter and when the butter has melted add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery. Sauté gently until the mixture has softened and just started to colour.
Add in a good spoonful of tomato paste and cook this off for a few minutes before adding the drained beans. Stir well and then add the diced tomatoes, rosemary sprigs and enough stock or water to cover the beans by a good inch or two.
Let this bubble gently until the beans have softened. The time this takes will depend on the bean you use and its age. Check often to make sure there's enough water covering the beans. You just need to watch that they don't dry out.
After a couple of hours the mix will have swelled and softened and the sauce reduced to a rich deep red.
Only when the beans are completely cooked should you add salt - adding it before this time will result in hard beans.
If you like a sweeter bean then you can also stir in maple syrup to taste.
The beans are best served piping hot on thick toasted bread.