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Cooking on a budget 24 March 2010
Boston baked borlotti beans, by Tamasin Day-Lewis. Photo by James Merrell
Boston baked borlotti beans

The cookery writer and broadcaster Tamasin Day Lewis is a champion of what she calls proper food - free range, organic and locally sourced. She also likes to use specialist ingredients perhaps not available at supermarkets but which she believes add an authentic flavour to the dish. Her latest book ‘Supper for a Song’ combines inexpensive basics with a touch of the more exotic, creating suppers which she believes won’t break the bank. She showed our reporter Sally Williams how to make an American favourite - Boston baked borlotti beans

'Supper for a Song', by Tamasin Day Lewis, is published by Quadrille, ISBN: 978 1 84400 743 1

Boston baked borlotti beans recipe 

Deep flavours, deep and dark; sticky, intense and as savoury and piquant and mellow as you could wish for, this is the best version of the dish I have come up with. My take has blackstrap molasses and molasses sugar, runny honey, tamari, tomato and mustard, along with star anise. Classically, this dish is made with ham hocks, so you might like to add some pancetta or lardons, fried until the fat begins to run, or just keep it veggie. Borlotti beans retain their shape and texture well, so they are ideal for this dish.
Start the day before, as you need to soak the beans first, or soak them in the morning and get cracking in the early afternoon.

Perfect with sausages and mash, or just mash.

serves 4
225g/8oz borlotti beans or black-eyed peas, soaked in cold water for at least
8 hours

a sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 onion, peeled and stuck with 2 cloves
400g/14oz tin cherry tomatoes
1 heaped tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp runny honey
1 level tbsp molasses sugar
1 level tbsp grain mustard
1 tbsp tamari sauce
a few shakes of Tabasco
1 star anise
5 white peppercorns
8–10 thin slivers of lardo (optional)

Drain the beans and put them into a medium-small, cast-iron cooking pot or similar pan and add the rosemary, bay leaves and onion stuck with cloves. Just cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and put the lid on. Put into a low oven at 140°C/Gas 1 or continue to simmer gently on top of the stove for an hour.
Drain the beans and return them to the cooking pot, keeping their water to use for a soup; discard the herbs. Add the tomatoes to the beans. Thin the molasses with 2 tbsp of the saved hot cooking water and add to the beans with the runny honey and molasses sugar. Stir these together a little and then add the mustard, tamari, Tabasco, star anise and white peppercorns.
Bring just to the boil again, then cover and continue to cook in the oven or slowly on the hob for another hour.
Now remove the lid and turn the oven up to 180°C/Gas 4. The liquid will still be thin at this point. If using lardo, lay the slivers on top of the beans. Continue to cook for up to 3 hours, without a lid, until the liquid has turned into a thick, black, sticky gooey sauce. You may give the dish a gentle stir once or twice to amalgamate everything as it thickens and darkens.

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