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Grav or Gravce Tavce (Macedonian Baked Beans)

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Ingredients (serves 4 - 6 people):
  • 400 grams of white beans (i.e. Marco Polo Pelagonia beans)
  • 1 brown onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 green bullhorn pepper (or red capsicum for a sweeter taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Vegeta, salt and pepper
  • Optional: dried red peppers ('Suvi Piperki')
  • Optional: smoked ribs are traditionally used; however I prefer pepperoni sticks or Chorizo

    Zaprska (thickener)
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons of plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons of red paprika
  • 20 - 30 mls of vegetable oil

1. To save time and to shorten the boiling process, allow the beans to soak in a saucepan  of cold water, overnight.

2. Drain the beans, fill the saucepan with cold water, and bring to boiling point. Pour out water and fill saucepan again with cold water. This process ensures that the beans are washed.

3. Boil the beans together with the onion (poked with a toothpick a few times to allow water to seep in whilst boiling), carrot, garlic, and green pepper (and meat if preferred) for approximately 40 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Tip: keep checking that there is enough water in the saucepan, as you do not want your stew to stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

3. Take the vegetables out of the saucepan and use your fork to 'mush' into a paste-like substance. Add the vegetable paste back into the saucepan with the beans. Add the bay leaf and season with vegeta, salt and pepper. Stir and cook on medium heat for another 10 to 20 minutes until the beans are cooked. Tip: the beans should be whole, but soft on the inside.

4. To thicken the stew, you will need a small fry pan to create the 'zaprska'. Heat the oil and add the flour. Stir until the flour has dissolved, then stir in the red paprika. Once the 'zaprska' starts bubbling, remove from the stove, add to the saucepan and stir. If you prefer to serve the beans as a stew, do not continue on to the next step.

5.  Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Pour the contents of the saucepan (and the dried red peppers) into a baking pan (I prefer to use a traditional terracotta baking pan) and bake until the beans have reached a thick consistency and a thin crust has formed on the top. 


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