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Beans On Toast...?

Beans on toast are so omnipresent in all things UK that I figured there *had* to be something special about them. And they always say you *have* to make them with Heinz Baked Beanz (swear ta god, that's how it's spelled). So, when I was out for lunch at the faux UK pub in Burbank the other day (who have them on their menu as an entree, btw), I went next door to the minimarket that sells all things UK and found a can of the aforementioned Heinz, took them up to the counter, where the helpful clerk advised what kind of bread should be used (white), with "a bit of butter". Came back home and researched a little further online, where real UK foodies added their tips (shredded cheddar sprinkled on top and a little pepper added), and went to work.

Um, *really* underwhelmed. For one thing, all the English say that the Heinz Baked Beanz are so different from US baked beans that they simply must be used...I didn't think they were all that different. (Maybe a little more tomato saucy.) But the dish in its totality...meh. It'd do if I was starved, but suffice to say I'm not going to rush out to make them again.

Opinions? Did I do something wrong? Anyone else feel the same way? (I'm guessing that this is kind of a national extension of the phenomenon that makes Los Angelenos think that In'N'Out Burgers are manna from heaven.)

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  1. A bit of butter? Feh. Let it drip. The baked beans should be nicely warm too for extra melty goodness.

    1. LOL. I saw that topic and knew right off we were about to slag the Brits. I don't get it, either. Took me about a week to realize I was not going to be able to get a breakfast that didn't include beans. The real kicker, though, was the "fried bread." Dumb Yank here thought it was some kind of regionalism for French toast, pain perdu, whatever. Nope. It was plain, old...deep-fried bread. Chalk it up to a new cultural experience. Perhaps the affinity for beans at breakfast is something like the Hawaiian obsession with Spam. It just is.

      However, these are the culinary giants that gave us smoky bacon crisps. Gotta have me some of those real soon.

      2 Replies
      1. re: rockycat

        A "fried slice" is not deep fried. It is a piece of bread that is fried in a saute pan, after the bacon and eggs have been done, and in the hot bacon grease. Not a culinary masterpiece, by any means, but it compares favourably to other breakfast starches such as grits.

        1. re: KevinB

          I liked the fried bread when I ordered "cooked breakfast". Wasn't fond of the blood sausage, and was puzzled by the mushrooms, beans and tomato! Ate it all except said sausage, but probably wouldn't order it again if I go back to the UK.

          But I can tick it off my life list!

      2. Beans on toast is a rather bland but comforting dish. How could it not be? You have to use Heinz beans because American baked beans can be very sweet and has molasses which ruins this dish. And, as you noticed, it's in a tomato sauce and that's not right for New England baked beans. (The bread to serve with those beans is a brown bread)

        1. you have to add loads of brown sauce (HP or Daddies or OK).

          Beans on toast is just a Brit thing. Like Marmite.

          1. Many of our "comfort foods" don't make sense to someone tasting them anew...a lot of the appeal is their tradition and place in our hearts.

            I've had the beans on toast in New Zealand. Didn't excite me enough to look to repeat the experience, wasn't bad, just didn't float my boat...I suspect those not raised on grits would have a similar reaction to my comfy bowl topped with a little butter and salt!

            5 Replies
            1. re: meatn3

              I don't think even the most ardent Brit patriot would try to tell you that they're a classic. They're just a standard, quick, cheap and tasty comfort food, loved by kids and penniless students.

              It says on the tin that you shouldn't let them boil, but I like to put a heartstoppingly large chunk of butter in and lots of fresh black pepper and boil them down a little bit till the sauce thickens and darkens.

              1. re: paddydubai

                Exactly. Why the OP thought this was to be some culinary journey rather than dorm room food I'll never know. Perhaps if it could be supersized...

                You prep it the same way I used to. It's amongst the most simple of comfort foods when done that way.

                1. re: Googs

                  *culinary journey* hahah. Beans on toast is comfort food, nursery food, hangover food, it is not about an overwhelming culinary experience.

                2. re: paddydubai

                  Yup, when I was in elementary school in England bacon and beans on toast was the standard breakfast fare at my Canadian friend's house. It was something that we could cook w/out supervision. Still enjoy it occasionally when feeling nostalgic.

                  1. re: paddydubai

                    Exactly. Comfort food and a cheap and relatively nutritious snack. I quite like spaghetti hoops on toast as well.

                3. Beans on toast?

                  Mainly kids' food. Sometimes a quick snack lunch. Occasionally breakfast for me if I want something hot, unchallenging and without meat.

                  Certainly beans often come as part of a "full" cooked breakfast - more so in the south and than the north.

                  Heinz is the premium brand - I use supermarket own brand and can't tell the difference.

                  Interesting the OP suggests that beans on toast are omnipresent in our cuisine :-0

                  1. You guys, chill!

                    I *didn't* say I was expecting culinary nirvana and I'm *not* saying that I think every Brit eats it every day...I'm Anglophile enough, though, to have noticed mentions in many of the BBC shows I watch; I'm Chowhound enough to have noticed the devotion to it that those who grew up loving it have for it; and when it's listed as an *entrée* on pub menus, I tended to think that there must be something to it. And there obviously is (see some of the loving mentions below), just not for me.

                    It's probably the UK version of the US's macaroni & cheese fixation as regards comfort foods. I simply didn't expect to be as underwhelmed as I was. If sometime I find myself in the UK and find a Beans On Toast masterchef, I'll try it again.

                    1. I can't stand baked beans - just the smell makes me nauseous - but my husband loves them. As others have mentioned, they are standard fare for students. He tells me he lived off baked beans in uni - not the 'posh' Heinz ones, but the cheap 2p (two pence!) tins that he could buy at the local discount shop. Now that he can 'afford' Heinz, he usually keeps some in the cupboard just in case neither of us can be bothered to cook. He eats beans... I make eggs... and we tease each other about who has the better lunch. I know who I think is winning!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: WTBD

                        I like my beans on toast topped with a fried egg and brown sauce (of course!!)

                      2. You didn't do anything wrong. I have a friend who eats it most mornings for breakfast. It's the way she was raised and it's something she eats....she doesn't claim it to be anything 'out of this world' but it's what makes her feel good, it's a tradition in the morning with her cup of tea.
                        It's no different than another friend, from Vietnam, who eats fish and noodles every morning for breakfast...the smell makes me a little gaggy in the morning but it's her tradition and it's what makes her feel good....she doesn't claim it to be anything great but it's what she's used to.

                        1. Heinz and American baked beans are very different breeds indeed. American baked beans are overly sweet with molasses and brown sugar. Way off the mark for breakfast. Heinz has a slightly sweet, slightly sour taste from the tomato sauce that makes it far more amenable to a savory meal -- though I keep them in a shallow bowl on the edge of my plate as I don't want them tainting my eggs or sausage at breakfast.

                          That said, I'm not one for beans on toast either. They're just one of those cheap, simple comfort foods that inspire trips down memory lane for some and gagging for others, much like beans-n-franks or green bean casserole.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: JungMann

                            I find the beans in molasses too sweet as well - but the pork and beans and beans in tomato sauce are another story. We enjoy all three - most often on toast. Ours are Canadian product from Leamington, but I understand a lot of our production heads south, so it would seem there would be no difference between US and Canadian product.

                            Now, our blue Heinz can is beans with molasses - the ones in tomato sauce are in black and green can. How does the latter compare? I have found a local store with UK Heinz beans and will try them for sure.

                          2. I tried beans on toast (wth the Heinz in the blue can) two years ago and fell in love...but I love beans and I love toast and find it very comforting. Love the simplicity of it.