Variations of this delicious, simple dish are found throughout western and eastern Europe and the USA. Dried haricot beans and salt pork or bacon were winter staples in pre-freezer days and a must for sailors, trappers, cowboys and pioneers alike.
My recipe is in the modern, mid-western USA style; but options for an original Polish recipe are added below. I use the superb boiled, smoked bacon from Polish/Eastern European delicatessens - better and cheaper than supermarket fare.
This recipe feeds 4 hungry cowpokes!
1 kg Salt Pork/Speck/Pancetta/Boiled Bacon, cut into bite sized chunks.
1 large onion, roughly chopped.
2 cloves of garlic, mashed.
2 cans of good quality baked beans, including their tomato sauce.
2 small cans of butter beans, drained (optionally, replace with 1 can baked beans, drained of sauce).
1 tbsp sweet red paprika powder
1 tsp smoked paprika powder (back to the Polish deli…)
2 tbsp honey
Dash of tabasco to taste (optional).
Fry the bacon, and onion over a fierce heat, allowing the bacon to sweat some of its fat. You may need to add a little cooking oil if the bacon is really lean. Do not worry about a little caramelisation of the onions and bacon, as this adds a nice dark flavour and colour to the beans. You may wish to drain some of the fat off at the end of this stage.
Reduce the heat to a simmer, add the garlic and fry gently for a few seconds to flavour the fat. Add all the remaining ingredients to the pan and add half a can of water. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes and stir. Adjust for taste and simmer for a further 10 minutes, stir and serve.
For a fuller flavour, decant to a baking dish and bake open, in a medium-hot oven, for 15-20 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquidity of the beans if you decide to bake them - adding water (or good bacon stock if you have some) as necessary.
The Polish recipe uses only butter beans (pro rata by volume, of course), adding about 3 tbsps of tomato paste and another half can of water to replace the sauce you get in baked beans. Poles prefer it to be less sweet and less sticky, so omit the honey altogether and add more stock/water.
This dish is either a hearty meal in itself or as a breakfast item, excellent with a fried egg. Always serve the beans with crusty bread to mop up the delicious sauce.