It's time to ban homemade baked beans for good

It's time to ban homemade baked beans for good

Top football banter preceded this week as Serbian keeper Đorđe Petrovic, the player England stars will try to bypass in their Euro 2024 fixture on Sunday, conceded that fellow Chelsea player Cole Palmer nicknamed him “Beetroot” in training on account of his rampant consumption of the vegetable. In riposte? Petrovic dubbed Palmer “Beans”, the classic British staple, because Palmer supposedly scoffs them regularly. Back in the news, then.

Is this unrelated? Sort of. But the news reminded me that there are innumerable facets of life that aren’t worth the effort, and making your own baked beans, for a cooked breakfast, is one of them.

In country B&Bs across the country, we sit down between 7.30-10am, and when presented with the opportunity, nothing is more diverting than a fry up. Something to look forward to over filter coffee and juice.

I often decide against baked beans entirely when having a full English. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy beans, just mostly on a jacket potato under a blanket of cheddar. Also, I don’t really care what brand I’m given. Name the number one? Such platitudes rankle. Apparently, most supermarket versions are all made in the same factory by Heinz anyway. Different recipes, no doubt, but it really is just haricot cooked in salty, sugary tomato sauce, isn’t it?

But yes, I often opt out of beans. Let me enjoy the pork. Let me fold a fried egg atop a crisp hash brown: Dali’s clock is set to 9am. In any case, I find lubricating solace more readily in grilled tomatoes or ketchup. There have been occasions, however, where I haven’t bothered mentioning my ambivalence to beans. Perhaps in these hungover instances I am guiding myself toward some deranged journey of culinary perdition.

So to homemade beans, which are found in pubs and hotels whereby the other elements are cooked well: sausages sourced resourcefully; bacon with fat rendered, medallions free of sacrifice; tender eggs boasting unfussy whites and consciously oozing yolks. But the beans? The establishments must be beside themselves with misplaced ambition.

What do these people believe they are achieving? The full English is a dish formed in pursuit of hangover alleviation, of grease and desire. It is about finding excellent ingredients and cooking them properly, simply, easily. It is not about trying to win MasterChef or impressing anyone too keenly. A cooked breakfast is meant to be matter-of-fact and seemingly effortless.

But here they come, spiced to the hilt in a ramekin before us, coffee suddenly tepid and juice long since drained.

In homemade varieties, beans become lost in the tomato sauce, always a thick, grainy preparation too sugarless even for me

In homemade varieties, beans become lost in the tomato sauce, always a thick, grainy preparation too sugarless even for me. It is combative with the meat and too much for the quiet eggs.

The homemade beans I’ve had the misfortune of having in the past have all been much the same: erroneously herbaceous, beans a little too hard, almost cadaverous, sauce lacking any semblance of depth despite attempts to forge fortitude. Do calm down with the Worcestershire sauce. This is not a Bloody Mary.

It is a creation that appears in fry ups that are topped with three strands of cress for greenery. Commodified too sweepingly in those pubs that are almost good but which take themselves too seriously. Maybe the chef spent a year or two in a semi-decent city restaurant and then moved to the countryside to become a perverted big fish in a small and unnecessary pond.

And now the pond is homemade baked beans and I am being forced to go swimming. The fact is, I did not bring my trunks. Leave the beans to Heinz. Or Branston, whose version I might say is moderately better. But then such platitudes are rankling, aren’t they? Cole Palmer might think so.