BBQ Baked Beans

At the end of the week, the fridge is usually looking quite bare. Most of the veggies have been used up, any once-perky herbs are looking wilted, and arguments are imminent over whose job it will be to fetch more milk from the shop.

On a day at this point in the week, I was determined to make a dinner requiring no additional expenditure on ingredients, and I was feeling far too lazy to head to Tesco. So I made a quick inventory of the cupboards and fridge shelves, knowing that tinned beans, carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes are omnipresent in our kitchen.

What does one do with beans and sweet potatoes? I headed to the internet for some inspiration. Perhaps bean burgers – but not with a lack of buns. A sweet potato chilli, maybe – but not without peppers. I was considering reaching for my purse when I stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s BBQ baked beans recipe.

Jamie is probably my favourite celebrity chef, with his charisma, his real passion for food, and his dedication to getting other people to eat well, as with his campaign to improve school meals. I like his recipes, because they’re generally straightforward and don’t require really obscure ingredients. (I lose interest whenever a recipe calls for something I can’t pronounce.)

So I was excited to give this a try. It’s pretty much a very upgraded version of a can of baked beans with barbecue sauce, served with sweet potatoes. You can find the recipe here.

You’ll need:

  • two red onions
  • two cloves of garlic
  • a red chilli
  • two big carrots
  • olive oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
  • 1 level teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 level teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 x 700 ml jar of passata (I used two cans of chopped tomatoes in the absence of this – and it added some tomatoey chunkiness)
  • 2 x 400 g tins of beans (I used red kidney beans and butter beans)
  • 100 ml BBQ sauce (I made my own!)
  • a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, or a generous sprinkling of dried rosemary
  • ½ loaf of ciabatta, or any stale bread that needs using up
  • natural yoghurt or soured cream, to serve

Peel the onions and the garlic, and finely chop with the chilli. Chop the carrots into a relatively small dice.

Heat some olive oil in a large deep-bottomed frying pan, then cook the garlic, chilli and onion with the paprika, cumin, and chilli flakes on a low heat for about twenty minutes.

Then, pour in the passata or tomatoes and add the beans. (Jamie wanted me to include the juice of the beans, too; but as I’d added extra liquid with the two tins of tomatoes instead of passata, I didn’t.) Give it all a good stir to incorporate, then pour the mixture into a roasting tin.

Drizzle with BBQ sauce – we didn’t have any, so I made my own. It was pretty simple, based on this Martha Stewart recipe: just mix 85ml of ketchup with a tbsp brown sugar, a tbsp white wine vinegar, a tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp cayenne. Better than those sachets of BBQ sauce!

Grind over some salt, pepper, and rosemary, dried or fresh. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour, until it’s bubbling, browned on top, and smelling delicious. At the same time, bake the sweet potatoes, after giving them a scrub and rubbing them with olive oil. (It’s really important to add oil; they take positively hours longer to cook, otherwise.)

To make the croutons, simply tear up the bread, line up on a baking tray, and toss with olive oil. I used cheese ciabatta, which tasted gorgeous once baked.


I was really pleased with the outcome; this meal was tasty, and very satisfying. The BBQ sauce added a sweetness which went well with the rosemary and the texture of the beans, although I could perhaps have used more liquid to create more sauce. On the whole, though, a definite make-again!


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