For me, there are few more enjoyable ways to spend a weekend than hitting up bustling markets to buy allllllll the deli meats and cheeses, find the freshest veggies and herbs at the best price, and then head back home to cook up my purchases with a glass of wine in hand.
South Melbourne Market is a regular haunt for my fresh food-inspired days for a number of reasons – the proximity to the brilliant design shops that pepper the area, the closeness to the city, its restaurants that boast a warm European atmosphere, and the fabulous Theo’s Deli that sells my favourite King Island Roaring Forties Blue at a bloody good price point.
It was my frequent trips to this deli, along with my love of the house made baked beans that have become a staple on brunch menus across Melbourne, that prompted me to create my own baked beans.
This is a very Italian-inspired recipe. There are many incarnations to be found online, but I think this combo of rosemary, spicy pancetta, chilli and anchovies is the absolute best.
Don’t be afraid of the anchovies. They bring a uniquely tasty flavour to the dish that’s not fishy at all, and when you chop them up and chuck them into the mixture, it just melts away into the sauce without a trace.
TIP: Don’t worry if the top of the dish looks a tad overdone when you take it out of the oven. The more cooked the dish is, the more deliciously caremelised and rich the baked beans become.
Baked beans – serves 4-5
1 can borlotti beans, rinsed, drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed, drained
1 can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 can diced tomatoes
2 fresh tomatoes, diced
4 sprigs rosemary, stalks discarded and leaves chopped
3⁄4 cup chopped parsley
4-5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 medium brown onion, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon powdered chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 red chilli, seeds discarded (optional)
2 anchovy fillets, chopped
300 grams spicy pancetta, roughly chopped
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
300 grams Bulgarian or Persian fetta (marinated or fresh)
Poached eggs and baguettes with butter to serve (butter, guys. Not margarine)
Parsley or rosemary to garnish
1. preheat oven to 180C.
2. Add garlic and onions to a large saucepan with butter and oil and a little salt and pepper. On a low heat, cook, stirring, until onion is translucent and golden brown. Add brown sugar and continue stirring until dissolved and onion/garlic mixture is caramelised.
3. Add pancetta to saucepan and cook until fat renders down and crisps up a bit.
4. Add fresh and canned tomatoes, tomato paste, parsley, rosemary, powdered stock and anchovies to the saucepan. Cook on a simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes or until sauce thickens, flavours intensify and the consistency is that of ragu.
5. Add beans to the mixture and stir. Cook for a further five minutes.
6. Pour into a small (approximately 7cm by 10 cm) ovenproof dish and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the top becomes darker in colour and the mixture is bubbling.
7. Ladle beans into shallow serving bowls. Top with poached eggs and crumbled fetta. Serve with warm baguette drenched in butter and anything else that takes your fancy.