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Brekkie Showdown: Beans on Toast

J grew up with a basketful of alien habits, thanks in part to his mum, an Irish immigrant.

Cookies are biscuits. Sweaters are pullovers. Tea goes with brekkie, as well as the afternoon biscuit for teatime. Shepherd's pies have lamb in them, dammit. Oatmeal is steel-cut. The instant stuff in the packets is dust (or if he's feeling less than generous, it's shite.)

And beans, apparently, are for toast. Beans on toast? Why not beans near toast? Why not beans beneath toast? These are not valid questions. Beans go on toast.

Not just any beans, mind you. There are beans, and then there are beans. The beans J recognizes as beans (and craves on toast) are, in fact, navy beans.

Internet research told me that BoT is among the world's best performance breakfasts, thanks to its protein/carbohydrate ratio. Gets you going in the morning with lasting energy to power you (and your brain) through to lunchtime. Clearly, breakfast experimentation was in order.

The internet also told me I should use "Heinz Beans with tomato sauce" (a UK import product I ran across at my local Key Food), though "Heinz Premium Vegetarian Beans in rich tomato sauce" (an American product) could do in a pinch.

Who am I to argue with the internet? I decided to go with the double-header. Beano a beano.

Bean v. Bean

The Queen's Beans sold for $1.49 but came with a slick pull-tab on the can. The Yankee Beans cost me a mere .99, no pull-tab, no frills. Immediate comparison showed that the Yankee beans sported twice the sugar and a bit more fat. Both products promised a tomato sauce.

J said that when it's part of the Full Irish, Beans on Toast is generally served with fried eggs, potatoes, rashers (bacon) and sliced tomatoes. Sometimes a white pudding is in attendance.

As I was hoping to remain ambulatory after breakfast, we decided to go with bacon, poached eggs and BoT with a side of fresh cherry tomatoes.

Making Brekkie

The contents were immediately differentiated on opening the cans. As you can see, the Brit beans sit like little pearls in their pinky, translucent tomato sauce, while the American variety are darker and the sauce and beans share the same hue.

J didn't see the bean pouring process, so he wasn't aware which bowl of beans was which, but as it turned out, we both immediately preferred the UK version of the Heinz beans. The beans themselves were toothsome ("They taste like beans.") and their sauce was sweetly tangy. Real tomato flavor was apparent.

The Premium Vegetarian Beans were comparatively cloying. They tasted less like beans and tomato sauce, more like salt and sugar.

Beans on Toast with Poached Egg and Rashers

At that point, we couldn't bear to ruin perfectly good toast with substandard beans; we scooped only the tangy, tomato-y UK beans across our toast. Truly tasty, wholly satisfying and entirely worth the extra half-dollar.

J was happy. I was happy. I'd even go so far as to say that beans on toast may very well take up a spot alongside steel-cut oats, granola and power smoothies in our brekkie rotation. Meanwhile, I'll let you know if I suddenly begin rating better on standardized tests.

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12.29.2007

6 Comments:

Anonymous leshark said...

As another transplant I'm desperate to find some beans that won't require me to drive all the way to the other side of the city and fork over $5 (Canadian) for a piddly tin. The question is: is there any way to replicate British Heinz Baked Beans with a home-spun recipe? Before I embark on the endeavour myself, do you (does any one) know of a good basic recipe to start with?

1/05/2008  
Blogger MissGinsu said...

That is an excellent question. I, too, would like a recipe of this type... Will do some experiments and get back to this.

1/06/2008  
Blogger Ed said...

I recently landed at the Minneapolis airport - heading home at 1 in the morning - starving - and on the drive from the airport to home - I was thinking about what I could pick up quick at the grocer that would be quick and satisfying.

Suddenly - "beans on toast" popped into my head. It had been over 25 years since I had this last. Growing up in NYC with Irish immigrant parents - beans on toast was a winter staple for lunch. I was the only one of my siblings that took to it - and I remember sharing a plate with my father almost every winter Sunday.

So - I put this together that late night using Heinz Veggie Brown/Baked beans from Kowalskies Market - and while the dish was satisfying - it was not exactly as I remembered as a kid. I figured that everything changes over time - but I was not quick to dismiss my disappointment.

A google search quickly helped me discover the difference between American and British beans. I suspect that the canned beans that I enjoyed 25 years ago in NYC were either made in England or from the same recipe.

In any case - I found British Heinz beans at Beyerly's/Lunds in Minneapolis for $2.09 a can (ouch) - but when I first tasted - old memories came back.

I have also discovered "Annies Organic" baked vegetarian beans at Kowalski's Market in Minneapolis, MN, USA, - which are very good - maybe even better than the British Heinz beans. At very least - open to debate.

I wanted to post my findings here for the "beans on toast" crowd.

Also - to me - beans on toast is no different that "rice and beans" or "bean burrito". I have seen posts slamming the British Isles for the "absurdity" of beans-on-toast - but like these other two dishes - it is simply a combination of beans and a grain. Quite common worldwide!

2/10/2008  
Blogger Ed said...

Ooops - sorry.

In previous comment - I misspoke.

It is Amy's Organic Beans.

You can find them here:

http://www.amys.com

Cheers mate!

2/10/2008  
Blogger MissGinsu said...

There's something about the damp, dank nature of winter that cries out for the warmth of beans on toast.

I absolutely agree with you on the universality (and for that matter, practicality and frugality) of grain and bean for breakfast. And thanks also for the tip on Anne's Beans. I'll give 'em a whirl.

You probably missed it here, but I followed up this post with a try at homemade beans (Beans on Toast Strike Back) for our toast. It's actually very simple and surprisingly satisfying to tweak the bean sauce flavor to something that's exactly what you're craving.

Cheers!

2/10/2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beans on toast, with a chunk of sharp cheddar/cheshire and some HP.....it just doesn't get any better than that!...forget all your fancy cuisine, gastronomes will never admit how close to perfection this dish is!
As a Brit in the US, I know all too well how these 2 beans stack up, the US version is sickly sweet, has a goopy consistency and is generally a VERY poor substitute for the wonderful UK version. I am willing to pay 3-4times as much to get the quality product.
For those who haven't been to the UK and tried our wonderful cuisine, don't listen to the naysayers, we have the best food in the world!..fish n chips, sausage rolls, plougmans lunch, shepards pies, the list is endless!...

10/02/2009  

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