I’ve spent months waiting impatiently for the conditions to be just right, biding my time and anticipating the day – this day – because today is the day I’ve been waiting for. It’s time for me to buy a jacket potato with beans and cheese from the jacket potato man.
I mean, sure, he’s been there all summer – I even walked past his stall several times, my head hanging low in an attempt to hide my identity, but he sees me, another traitorous customer walking straight past his van on their way to Pret. Well, I’m sorry Mr Potato Man, but who wants to eat hot potatoes in stifling heat?
But now that the nights are drawing in and the cold wind is smacking me in the face, I think yes, yes I will treat myself to a jacket potato the size of my head today – the irony being that they’re not even all that nice. Jacket Potato Man starts by ladling copious amounts of beans over a jacket spread with marge (he says it’s butter, but I know it’s marge). He then tops it with grated cheese that starts to sweat rather than melt because the jacket and the beans aren’t quite hot enough to melt the cheese. Back at my desk, though, I’m too hungry to care, so dive right in and instantly burn my mouth and oesophagus with molten hot potato because, for some reason, the middle of the jacket is the only part that’s actually hot – a bit like the centre of the earth. But despite all of this, I hoover it up and instantly fall into a deliciously warm carb coma and am useless at my job for the rest of the day.
So what is it about beans and cheese that’s so great? For me, it’s the nostalgia. After one bite I’m transported back to my sofa in Luton. Off sick from school I was allowed to eat my cheesy beans on toast on my lap in front of Supermarket Sweep. Such a simple memory, but one that invokes strong feelings of comfort, love and a longing for Dale Winton. So this is my tribute and homage to cheesy beans, baked in the oven and covered in melted cheese – a breakfast fit for an ‘90s TV show host. RIP Dale Winton.
Cheesy baked beans Serves 4 / Hands on time 15 mins / Total time 45 mins /V
1 tsp rapeseed oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
½ tsp smoked paprika
1 can borlotti beans, rinsed and drained
1 tbs tomato purée
1 can chopped tomatoes
1 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp brown sugar
100g vegetarian medium cheddar, grated
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Bread to serve
1. Preheat an oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ 350°F/gas mark 4. In a large oven-proof casserole dish, sweat the onions and garlic in a tsp of rapeseed oil on a medium to hight heat with the lid on for 5 minutes. Remove the lid and add ½ a tsp of smoked paprika, a good pinch of salt and a dash of water. Stir and cook for a further 2 minutes uncovered.
2. Add the tomato purée and stir in the chopped tomatoes, beans and red wine vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with a tsp of brown sugar and stir.
3. Place the lid on ajar and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Meanwhile grate the cheese and chop the parsley.
4. Remove the beans from the oven and sprinkle evenly with the grated cheese. Pop the lid back on ajar and bake in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Once melted, removed from the oven, sprinkle with chopped parsley and spoon out onto hot buttered toast.
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V– Vegetarian ❄– Suitable for home freezing once cooled. Consume within 3 months.