Last week was slow around here because last weekend I got married to Alex! For all the time I spend internet-ing and on social media, I’m not terribly talented at sharing real life’s big moments online. And the wedding feels private, gloriously so–all ours, and our families’ and our friends’.
So instead of talking about emotions, can we talk about beans?
Baked beans, by Katie Quinn Davis. Katie blogs at What Katie Ate. She’s a food and lifestyle photographer whose images capture texture so evocatively I can feel the crackly skin of her photographs’ roasted chickens and taste the gooeyness of the sauce on the Sticky Chicken with Sesame and Chile on page 187 of Katie’s new book. Because What Katie Ate is now a book (!) of comfort food so inspiring I didn’t know where to start cooking from it.
In the end, I started at the beginning. The first recipe I made appears on the second page of the breakfast section, though we ate the Homemade Baked Beans on Toast for dinner.
Beans are Alex’s bachelor dinner, what he ate before he met me, what he eats when I’m going to get home late. He has a method for making a can of cannellinis tasty, but it’s pretty simplistic. When I toy around with beans to make them more interesting, he feels like he’s in for a treat.
And Katie’s beans are interesting. Deliciously large morsels of pancetta, dollops of mustard, thyme leaves, Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes flavor Katie’s version which are a hundred times less cloying than sweet baked beans from a can. In fact, there’s no sugar in these at all. We scooped the beans onto thick slices of fried bread and ate the open-faced sandwiches for dinner. Some broccoli rabe sautéed in olive oil made a really nice side dish if you’re looking for one.
After I made the beans, I flipped through the rest of the book, and there’s so much good stuff here. Next up, Sticky Chicken with Sesame and Chile and then Sheila’s Retro Beef Curry (circa 1974), and after that, who knows?
More great bean dishes:
Barbecue Lentils from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Chickpea-Vegetable Pot Pie from Big Girls, Small Kitchen
Spiced Black Bean, Grilled Avocado, and Goat Cheese Tacos from Naturally Ella
What Katie Ate’s Homemade Baked Beans on Toast
Slightly adapted from What Katie Ate
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bread
1 onion, finely diced
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 ounces pancetta, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
28-ounce can whole tomatoes
3 sprigs thyme, leaves picked
1 medium-spiced red or green chile, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon hot or whole grain mustard
Two 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
4 thick slices of bread
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan or flameproof casserole dish. Add the onion and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with a pinch of salt.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat, add the pancetta, and cook until golden and crispy.
Add the pancetta to the onion mixture (leave most of the pancetta’s oil/fat behind–I added about 1 tablespoon to the onions). Add the tomatoes, breaking the them up in your hands as you add them, and the the thyme, chile, sauces, and mustards. Simmer for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and stir in the cannellini beans. Cook for 10 minutes, then season with salt and peper and cook for another 10 minutes.
These beans get even better if you make them early in the day or the night before. If you’ve got time, cool to room temperature, then store in the fridge. You may want to add 1/3 cup water when you reheat them (slowly, over low heat).
Film a large heavy skillet with olive oil and set it over medium-high heat. Add the bread and cook about 5 minutes per side, until golden. You may want to add some more olive oil when you flip the bread.
Serve the beans hot on top of the bread.