Baked beans are one of the most versatile meals around. You can modify these beans into how you like them to be.
For example, if you’re looking for a heavy dish that’s a meal on its own, you can cook it with meat like sausages. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of vegetarian cuisines, you can serve it with baked sweet potatoes.
The secret with baked beans is giving it a lot of intense flavors to compensate for its density and blandness.
Beans need a lot of help, so you must also intensify your seasonings by allowing it to thicken. Hence, you’ll need to learn how to thicken baked beans for the best results!
The Principles Of Making Baked Beans
As we previously stated, baked beans need a lot of seasoning. The worst thing to happen is your beans taste nothing but beans.
That scenario is horrific given that beans, as it is, are rubbery and waxy. When seasoning beans, you’ll need to remember three things, and these are texture, intensity, and consistency.
It’s unappetizing to eat baked beans were the only ingredients that you’ll munch are the beans. It won’t be different from eating soupy rice. And no, we’re not even referring to porridge, just poorly cooked rice.
To avoid having this problem, you can incorporate your favorite meat or vegetable to the beans. A famous technique is cooking ground beef, broken sausages, or shredded pork to go with your baked beans.
Not only will this give the beans a new texture, but it will also give it a new dimension of flavor.
The silky texture of the beans will go well with the rough and crunchy texture of the meat.
This is why pork and beans are one of the famous combinations in Europe. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a vegetarian approach to this dish, you can use robust vegetables.
Using healthy vegetables will help it resist the temperature of the oven when baking it with the beans. An example of such vegetables are onions, carrots, and potatoes.
These are sturdy crops that can take a beating in the oven. Not to mention, it adds a delicious sweetness to your beans while giving it another crunch.
Intensity: Using Hard-nosed Ingredients To Kick The Palate
- The intensity level of baked beans must be high. You’re not eating baked beans as a palate cleanser or as a light snack.
- The concept behind baked beans is that it’s supposed to be gnarly, fit as a side for dishes like rotisserie chicken and smoked pork belly.
- Hence, expect to use strong spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin powder when making this dish. Although it’s important to understand that baked beans don’t rely only on smokiness.
- You’ll also need to have a right blend of sweetness and tanginess to balance out all the flavors. Using condiments like honey and BBQ sauce are great techniques to enhance this dish.
Consistency: Thickening The Sauce
As with any dish that requires thickening, baked beans will be a lot more flavorful if you thicken the sauce. The flavors will be intensified, and you’ll avoid getting that watery feeling and taste whenever you take a spoonful of it.
Based on my experience, baked beans go wrong most of the time because of its thin consistency.
Many cooks don’t know how to thicken the sauce, while some try to thicken it but add more to the problem later on. We’ll give you a step by step guide on how to thicken it below.
What You’ll Need:
- Canned beans
- Ground meat (can be sausages, pork, or beef fit for braising)
- Red onion
- Peas (optional)
- Brown sugar
- Herbs (rosemary, thyme, oregano)
- Spices (Chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin)
- Thickening agents such as
- Cornstarch slurry
- Maple syrup
- Golden syrup
- Thick BBQ sauce
- Tomato puree
How To Thicken Baked Beans: Step By Step Guide
Step 1: Use The Beans’ Texture To Its Advantage
As we mentioned earlier, baked beans are naturally waxy in texture. For example, one of the most rubbery beans out there are cannellini beans. Hence, using this trait of the beans can help thicken the sauce already.
To do this, start by first draining the canned beans until semi-dry. Don’t rinse it with cold tap water. Once you remove the excess liquid, season it with a lot of sea salt and pepper. Place it in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes.
Remember, at this stage, your beans must be baking with a lot of other ingredients.
Sweet potatoes, sausages, beef, and other robust ingredients must be with the beans along with your preferred seasonings. This video from Food Tube is a good demonstration of mixing beans with other ingredients.
Step 2: Use Thick Seasonings
This stage is where you season the beans. Now, to give it extra thickness, you should use thickening agents before putting it in the oven. Some of these thickening hacks are cornstarch slurry, which is simply cornstarch and water.
However, if you want to add flavor to your beans, you can use thick condiments like golden syrup, honey, thick barbecue sauce, and tomato puree as well. This will be easier to reduce when it’s cooking in the oven.
Step 3: Reduce It If It’s Still Watery
Once you take out the beans, it should be getting thick already compared to before.
However, if your baked beans are still not thick enough for you, put it back in the oven and give it a quick blast of heat. An ideal way to do this is putting it in for 7 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.
Another trick is not to put it in the oven and instead on the stove. Just place your baking tray on the stove and let it simmer until it reduces some more. Reducing the water content in the sauce will help concentrate the flavors and thicken it completely. You can see this page to choose an oven for your baked bean
Step 4: Mash The Beans
If you opt to use the oven in reducing the beans, mash the beans with a vegetable masher as soon as it comes out hot in the oven.
Make sure it’s piping hot. By doing so, the waxy core of the beans will blend in with the sauce. Thus, it will help thicken it by acting as a natural starch.
Let the baked beans rest. This will help the mashed beans to absorb the remaining water and thicken the sauce some more.
The Wrap Up For How To Thicken Baked Beans
Thickening the sauce might be one of the hardest parts of making baked beans for a beginner. However, it’s not hard once you get the hang of it. It just requires a little bit of basic chemistry and simple hacks using everyday ingredients stored in your cupboard.
Key ingredients like honey and cornstarch are great ways to not only thicken the consistency but also add a new dimension of flavor to your dish.