Homemade Borlotti Baked Beans

My six year old neighbour Martin is coming over for lunch today. A few months ago Martin popped in to say hi and I had just taken my homemade baked beans out of the oven. Martin was astounded to find out that baked beans don’t just come out of a can. He was even more intrigued when I showed him the actual raw beans. “They are like nuts”, he said. I gave Martin a small taste of the freshly cooked beans and he loved them. Since then whenever I see him he talks about the baked beans,so I thought it only appropriate that I should make a batch for lunch.

Whilst they take time to make, due to having to soak the beans, then twice cook them, the results are so much better than using beans out of a can and the cooking process gives you the opportunity to use herbs and spices to your taste in the sauce.

I use Borlotti beans for this recipe, but you can also use white beans or cannellini beans. Cooking the beans with a ham hock adds a smoky sweetness, but is not essential.

Prep time: 8 hours soaking + 10 minutes  Cooking time: 3-4 hours


2 cups dried Borlotti beans
water to cover

soaked Borlotti beans
water to cover
1 small ham hock
1 onion studded with 4-6 cloves

1 onion finely diced
3 cloves garlic finely diced
Shredded ham from hock
2 bay leaves
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbspns tomato paste
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves stripped from stalks
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tabLespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tspoon salt (or to taste)
2 tspns crushed black pepper

Soak beans overnight or for at least 8 hours covered in plenty of cold water
Drain beans and place in large soup or casserole pot
Cover with water, at least 10cm above beans
Add ham hock and onion studded with cloves
Bring to a boil then cook on a slow bubbling boil for 1-1.5hours or until beans are just tender (length of time depends on freshness of beans so check to see if they are cooked earlier or need longer. Mine cooked really quickly this time so broke up a bit, but were still fine in end dish)
Beans should be tender but still holding their shape, a few might break up
Remove ham hock and shred meat, removing skin and gelatinous bits
Drain in a colander and set aside

Boiled and drained Borlotti beans

Preheat oven to 150 degrees celcius
In a large casserole pot that has a tight fitting lid, heat oil, then add onions and cook slowly until transparent
Add garlic and shredded ham bits and cook until garlic looks golden
Add beans, diced tomatoes, bay leaves, tomato paste, worcestshire sauce, sugar, salt, pepper and and thyme and bring to a boil
Cover with lid, then carefully place in oven
Check after half an hour and remove lid if it is looking too watery
Bake in oven for 2-2.5 hours until sauce has thickened

Boiled and drained Borlotti beans

Serve on toast for breakfast, lunch or dinner – delicious with avocado slices and a squeeze of lemon

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Born in South Africa, of Indian heritage. My family moved to Australia in the early 80's. I have a busy professional career as the CEO of a Healthcare Foundation based in Sydney. I love cooking, learning to cook, eating and travel. My blog Freespiritfood.net is written in the spirit of sharing my foodie adventures.

7 thoughts on “Homemade Borlotti Baked Beans

    1. I love people who are easy to please! The good thing about these beans is that you can do a lot of other stuff while they are soaking, boiling and baking:)

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