8oz (250g) dried white haricot beans
1 pint (500mls) water
1 onion, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp English mustard
2 tbsp black treacle
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
3 tbsp tomato puree
6oz (175g) bacon bits
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1) Soak the haricot beans in water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain.
2) Put the beans in the slow cooker and mix in the chopped onion and the bacon bits.
3) Blend the mustard with a little of the water, followed by the black treacle, sugar, tomato puree, and chopped garlic. Mix with the rest of the water, and pour over the bean mixture. Season, and add the bayleaf.4) Cook on low for around 8 hours. For the last hour, remove the lid and thicken the sauce by allowing some of the liquid to evaporate. If the mixture is too dry, add some more water.
5) Remove the bayleaf and serve hot, with crusty bread and a sprinkle of grated cheese, if desired.
This produces beans in quite a watery sauce - it is not thick like a tin of baked beans. You might therefore want to serve the beans in a bowl. To accompany it, I used home-made focaccia; or girdle (soda) scones would also work well.
Haricot beans used to be the most commonly available, if my wartime rationing book is anything to go by. I actually had great difficulty finding them - the supermarkets didn't seem to stock them - but eventually tracked them down to an ethnic food store. They were quite a bit cheaper than any of the others on sale, at only 78p for 500g.
I haven't tried this, but it occurs to me that you could make this more of a main meal by omitting the bacon pieces, and instead burying a whole bacon joint in among the beans. Then remove the joint at the end, carve it, and serve all together with a baked potato or oven chips.