Baked beans are a staple camping food, and whilst they may be a bit “old skool” baked beans are a must have tin you should always have in your motor home cupboard. Baked beans are tasty straight out of the tin, and I will happily eat them as they are, however there are times when it is nice to do something a little different and ‘liven’ the beans up a bit.
There is a school of thought that the only thing you need to do to liven up a tin of baked beans to season them, i.e. add some salt and/or pepper. I agree that a bit of black pepper sprinkled over beans on toast is nice, but it doesn’t liven the beans up in my opinion. Sure, it adds some flavor but not a great deal. As for salt, I never add salt to baked beans because they are salty enough straight out of the tin.
There are several different things you can add to baked beans to enhance the taste, make them a little different and liven them up a little, and my favorites include:-
Indian spices and flavorings
I am an Indian food fanatic and love all Indian spices, so curry flavored beans are often my first choice. Making curry beans simply requires adding a favorite Indian spice whilst warming the beans in a saucepan on the hob.
The Indian spices I carry in the motor home are cumin, madras curry powder, tikka curry powder and garam masala. In the past I tried mixing cumin and madras spice together however the taste was totally wrong, and because of that I only use one spice at any one time in the beans.
The spice I use when I am camping depends entirely on the mood I am in at the time. For example, if I want a really spicy dish I will use the madras powder, whereas if I want a more subtle dish I will just add some cumin powder.
Chili spices and flavorings
Making chili beans involves, as I am sure you’ve probably guessed, adding some chili to the beans when warming them through. I used to use chili powder, however I found it turned the sauce really thick and gloopy. There are times when I want a thick sauce and when this is the case, I use chili powder. Rather than using a lot of mild chili powder, which tends to congeal in to lumps, I use a lesser amount of extra hot chili powder.
When I don’t want a thick sauce but still want a chili kick I use chili flakes, which work very well. I have tried using chopped dried chilies in a tin of baked beans, however these were too hot and spicy for me.
Smoky/BBQ spices and flavorings
You can make BBQ beans by simply squirting in some BBQ sauce in to the beans whilst warming them through. I use ready made shop bought BBQ sauce however you can make your own from scratch and use that if you want. I use ready made BBQ sauce because it is quick, easy, cheap and the taste is always spot on. I have made my own BBQ sauce in the past, all with inconsistent results. Making BBQ beans this way adds more sauce, which tends to get quite runny.
If you like a thinner sauce, this method is perfect for you however you prefer a thicker sauce you may want to check out method number two below.
My second method of making BBQ beans is to use paprika. When using paprika the beans take on a lightly smoked flavor, which is more subtle than using BBQ sauce and since paprika is a powdered spice the sauce won’t thin out at all. In fact, the sauce will thicken up, which is always good.
To make herb beans simply sprinkle in your favorite Italian herbs whilst warming the beans through. I typically use mixed herbs, however you can use any dried herbs you want.
I find herb flavored beans great mixed in with pasta, with a little grated cheese on top. I have tried herb beans on toast, but this simply didn’t work for me. Herb beans are an acquired taste, and they may seem a bit weird however I highly recommend giving them a try as they are very tasty.
There are other spices and flavorings you can use to liven up a tin of baked beans in addition to my favorites, as above. Over the years I have experimented with many others, some of which have worked very well and some of which were a total disaster. Even though I have found many other great spices and flavorings I find that I tend to keep going back to my favorites time and time again.