FOOD AND TRAVEL

Macedonian Baked Beans (Tavče Gravče)

The best pan baked beans are made with a special type of regional bean called tetovac. Tetovac originates from Macedonian city of Tetovo. For a long time it was the most known bean in the region.
The taste leans towards sweet achieved with paprika and soft, simmered onion. This delicacy’s recognition factor is the paprika. Paprika just accents the already successful, sweet taste of combined bean and onions.
Macedonian baked beans (tavče gravče) are a classic side dish present for every holiday, and on many days in between. Large, flat beans are softened to the just-before-falling-apart level, and then baked with chunks of onion in an abundant amount of sweet paprika.

Original tetovac is harder to find today. And if you’re in the US, it’ll be near impossible.

However the white butter bean is a great substitution. White lima beans also work. Just look for the flatter, larger version. You’ll need them dry, not canned.

First clean it from the debris. Soak it overnight in plenty of water, with a pinch of baking soda. The following day strain and wash thoroughly. Transfer to a pan, bring to a boil, then cook until the beans are soft. Strain again and combine with simmered onions. And let them take a journey in the oven together.

As I mentioned before, the easiest version is to go with 1:1 bean to onion ratio. However it’s not strictly so. You can do a little less onion, or a little less beans. The first time you make it, make the ratio even. After that, let your taste guide you.

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon baking soda
24 ounces dry white flat beans lima, butter bean or tetovac
24 ounces yellow onion cleaned, diced into half moons
⅓ teaspoon ground pepper
1.5 teaspoons seasoned salt or vegeta or 1 bouillon cube
3 teaspoons paprika
7 ounces vegetable oil

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. In a large bowl, soak beans overnight in plenty of water and baking soda.
  2. The following day strain the beans and wash thoroughly. Transfer to a large pan and cover with 6-8 cups of water. Bring to boil on high, then lower the temperature to medium. Continue cooking beans for the 60 minutes or until they are soft, but not falling apart. During cooking, keep removing the foam that forms on top of the pot and stir.
  3. About 40 minutes after you’ve put beans to cook, heat oil in a large pan on high. Add onions and lower the temperature to medium. Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until onion crystalizes but isn’t completely brown. Heat oven to 480°F.
  4. Remove beans and onions off heat. Strain beans, however keep 8-10 ounces of water in which it was cooked. Transfer to a baking pan by first layering the onion, then the beans. Add spices on top. Finally, add the bean water. Mix thoroughly and transfer to the oven. Lower heat to 390°F.
  5. Bake 30 to 40 minutes. Check once or twice. The beans should be baked and soft with a slight, non-dry crispiness in parts.
  6. Serve warm.

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