How To Thicken Baked Beans: Tips And Tricks In Cooking This Healthy Dish
Baked beans are one of the most versatile meals around. You can modify these beans into how you like them to be.
For example, if you’re looking for a heavy dish that’s a meal on its own, you can cook it with meat like sausages. On the other hand, if you’re thinking of vegetarian cuisines, you can serve it with baked sweet potatoes.
The secret with baked beans is giving it a lot of intense flavors to compensate for its density and blandness.
Beans need a lot of help, so you must also intensify your seasonings by allowing it to thicken. Hence, you’ll need to learn how to thicken baked beans for the best results!
The Principles Of Making Baked Beans
As we previously stated, baked beans need a lot of seasoning. The worst thing to happen is your beans taste nothing but beans.
That scenario is horrific given that beans, as it is, are rubbery and waxy. When seasoning beans, you’ll need to remember three things, and these are texture, intensity, and consistency.
Intensity: Using Hard-nosed Ingredients To Kick The Palate
- The intensity level of baked beans must be high. You’re not eating baked beans as a palate cleanser or as a light snack.
- The concept behind baked beans is that it’s supposed to be gnarly, fit as a side for dishes like rotisserie chicken and smoked pork belly.
- Hence, expect to use strong spices like paprika, cayenne pepper, and cumin powder when making this dish. Although it’s important to understand that baked beans don’t rely only on smokiness.
- You’ll also need to have a right blend of sweetness and tanginess to balance out all the flavors. Using condiments like honey and BBQ sauce are great techniques to enhance this dish.
Consistency: Thickening The Sauce
What You’ll Need:
How To Thicken Baked Beans: Step By Step Guide
Step 1: Use The Beans’ Texture To Its Advantage
As we mentioned earlier, baked beans are naturally waxy in texture. For example, one of the most rubbery beans out there are cannellini beans. Hence, using this trait of the beans can help thicken the sauce already.
To do this, start by first draining the canned beans until semi-dry. Don’t rinse it with cold tap water. Once you remove the excess liquid, season it with a lot of sea salt and pepper. Place it in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 45 minutes.
Remember, at this stage, your beans must be baking with a lot of other ingredients.
Sweet potatoes, sausages, beef, and other robust ingredients must be with the beans along with your preferred seasonings. This video from Food Tube is a good demonstration of mixing beans with other ingredients.
Step 2: Use Thick Seasonings
This stage is where you season the beans. Now, to give it extra thickness, you should use thickening agents before putting it in the oven. Some of these thickening hacks are cornstarch slurry, which is simply cornstarch and water.
However, if you want to add flavor to your beans, you can use thick condiments like golden syrup, honey, thick barbecue sauce, and tomato puree as well. This will be easier to reduce when it’s cooking in the oven.
Step 3: Reduce It If It’s Still Watery
Once you take out the beans, it should be getting thick already compared to before.
However, if your baked beans are still not thick enough for you, put it back in the oven and give it a quick blast of heat. An ideal way to do this is putting it in for 7 minutes at 220 degrees Celsius.
Another trick is not to put it in the oven and instead on the stove. Just place your baking tray on the stove and let it simmer until it reduces some more. Reducing the water content in the sauce will help concentrate the flavors and thicken it completely.
Step 4: Mash The Beans
If you opt to use the oven in reducing the beans, mash the beans with a vegetable masher as soon as it comes out hot in the oven.
Make sure it’s piping hot. By doing so, the waxy core of the beans will blend in with the sauce. Thus, it will help thicken it by acting as a natural starch.
Let the baked beans rest. This will help the mashed beans to absorb the remaining water and thicken the sauce some more.
The Wrap Up
Thickening the sauce might be one of the hardest parts of making baked beans for a beginner. However, it's not hard once you get the hang of it. It just requires a little bit of basic chemistry and simple hacks using everyday ingredients stored in your cupboard.
Key ingredients like honey and cornstarch are great ways to not only thicken the consistency but also add a new dimension of flavor to your dish.
Always remember that baked beans are similar to cooking sticky pork ribs, it requires a lot of patience to reduce the liquid into an oozing, thick sauce.