The seasoning and flavouring are incredibly important in this dish, by Diana Henry. It’s lovely just as it is or with a baked potato on the side.
- Prepare10 mins
- Cook4 hrs 10 mins
- Total time4 hrs 20 mins
- Plusovernight soaking
After soaking overnight, drain and rinse the beans and put them in a large flameproof heavy-based casserole dish. Add enough water to cover by about 5cm and bring to the boil. Boil hard for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook for about 1 hour, or until the beans are tender but not completely soft. Check the water level occasionally to ensure they don’t boil dry. Preheat the oven to 160°C, gas mark 2.
Add the lardons to the beans, along with the garlic, passata, maple syrup, molasses sugar, mustard, vinegar, bay leaves and pepper (don’t add salt yet, as you need to see how salty the beans become once cooked with the bacon). Stick the cloves into the quartered onions and add them, too. Add more water if you need, so that the beans are covered. Replace the lid, put the casserole in the preheated oven and bake for 2 hours.
Remove the lid, stir, then return the casserole to the oven for another hour to brown and thicken. Do check during this last hour to make sure the beans aren’t becoming too dry. Taste for seasoning and stir in the parsley, then serve. It’s nearly impossible to remove the cloves first, as the onions disintegrate while cooking, but warn your guests they are there. Enjoy with baked potatoes, if liked.