Today I am making the very British Jamie Oliver’s baked beans. I originally saw this recipe on his instagram, an account that inspires frequent and often feelings of “my breakfast never looks like that”, (sighs wistfully), “my life has been totally absent of burgers that look like that!”, and “WHO KNEW CHEESE COULD DO THAT!” I finally decided to try my hand at one of these recipes, and I didn’t get very far before I realized I might have been slightly out of my depth and also very American.
First: the metric system. My whole life I have been tangentially aware of how crazy it is that America doesn’t use the metric system. “Yeah…it’s better, butwhatcanyoudo? Get me my measuring cups! USA! USA!” It wasn’t until I was crouched down in the grocery aisle trying to crunch the numbers from mL to ounces that I decided yes, it is slightly twisted that we are still gallavanting, laughing in the face of the milliliter, the gram, and the meter. Ultimately, I decided, “It’s baked beans! I’m sure everything will be mostly fine.” Commence the guessing! Next ingredient: Passata. What is Jamie’s almighty grocery store is passata?! Oh…I have a phone. To Google! (This is when I realize that I could Google metric unit conversions, but let’s face it those ingredients are already in my cart. You don’t come back from that.) So, passata is basically tomato puree. I can handle that.
Two tins of beans. It is surprising how benign a word as “tin” can throw such a wrench into this obviously flawless culinary machine. Inner monologue: “Is a tin the same thing as a can? I thought tins were those things anchovies come in…or maybe like…fancy oatmeal. That seems right, but none of these bean cans look like fancy oatmeal containers. Maybe tin is just British for can. That’s probably mostly right. Yeah.”
Red Chile. I tell you, the logic of my inner monologue is pretty irrefutable, guys: “Red chile. I’ve never bought a red chile, have I? This’ll be fun. Ok…chiles. None are red. Oh wait that one! (accidentally cuts off old woman with my crazed leap towards what I would discover is a red pepper.) Maybe I’ll just get a jalapeño. That’ll work. Wait…poblanos sure sound fancy.” And that’s how I ended up with three poblano peppers. You know, for fanciness.
Once I got all my ingredients in the cart and out the door the actual cooking was pretty straightforward. Though I will call out Jamie Oliver for instructions like the following: “place in the oven for one hour or until bubbling, baked, and gorgeous.” But, Jamie, as someone who also believes a bowl full of flaming hot cheetoes is pretty gorgeous, I’m pretty sure my gorgeous-gage is off! Lo and behold, after an hour…yes, they did look pretty. I’ll give you this one, Oliver.
However, squidge, while evocative, is not a verb I can get behind, guy. The exact quote: “…tear up or squidge open the potatoes.” Squidge. I can see it, kind of a toothpaste tube-y mix of squeeze and….idging? No. I don’t see it. ESPECIALLY when I try to “squidge” open those potatoes they kind of got everywhere, because, you see, a sweet potato skin is not a toothpaste tube. It doesn’t take kindly to squidging, or even squeezing. Or idging for that matter.
Irrational pouting aside, I really like the recipe. I didn’t make the croutons because A) I’m trying to cut out bread a little bit, and B) I forgot to get loaf of bread to crouton-ize* (too distracted by figuring out what a tin is), but put some plain greek yogurt on the side and some greens, and you’ve got yourself a pretty hearty meal. Also, the leftovers taste better than fresh out of the oven. You know, flavors have squidged together. Yeah, I’m pretty sure I used that correctly.
Verdict: Once you figure out the compatibility levels between the metric system and your local grocery store, and master your squidging skills this recipe is awesome and makes great leftovers.
*I can make verbs too, man!