Beanz still meanz Heinz: Macedonian tavche gravche

‘I’m going to write the fastest blog post ever,’ Miranda declared just now as she sat down at the computer. The irony of this then dawned on her, as she considered the fact that this dish was probably the one that has taken longer to cook than any other. Nonetheless, a quick post is all this is going to be, we’re afraid, because we’re going away in a few days (woohoo!) and have more pre-holiday jobs to do than we care to think about. So today you are spared a lengthy preamble, whilst we merely present you with the recipe (with thanks to 196 Flavors for Macedonian tavche gravche: beans in a skillet.

Tavche gravche

Ingredients
1 cup dry white beans (we used cannellini)
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 onions, sliced
3 red onions, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 green chilli peppers, finely chopped
2 red peppers, sliced
2 yellow peppers, sliced
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 cup cooking oil (or more like 2/3 cup when you realise that’s all you have left)
2 bay leaves (that said, they’re not mentioned in the method so we didn’t actually use them…)
A few mint leaves, chopped
1/2 bunch coriander, chopped
Salt and pepper

Method
1. Soak the beans for 6 hours in boiling water and the baking soda.
2. After 6 hours, wash the beans and blanch in boiling water over high heat for 15 minutes. Drain.
3. In a cooking pot, sauté 2 of the garlic cloves in a quarter of the oil.
4. Add a few slices of red and yellow peppers (we added half a pepper of each colour at this stage), half of the paprika, and one green chilli. Add the beans and 1/3 of the chilli powder. Cover with water, cover with a lid and cook for half an hour over medium heat, then another half an hour over low heat.
5. After the hour, drain and reserve the cooking liquid.
6. In the second quarter of oil, sauté the onions. Add salt, the second third of chilli powder and the flour and stir well. Simmer for 10 minutes, then put aside.
7. In the third quarter of oil, sauté the remaining two cloves of garlic, the remaining slices of peppers, the remaining paprika, the second chilli pepper and the remaining chilli powder for 15 minutes, then put aside.
8. Preheat oven to 100C.
9. Add the remaining oil to the bottom of a baking dish, then put half the onions, then half the peppers, then half the beans, and then repeat.
10. Cover with the reserved cooking liquid and sprinkle with coriander and mint. Cover with tinfoil and bake for 3 hours.
Serves 4

1000a Cooking beans compressed

1001a Cooking onions compressed

1002a Cooking onions compressed

1003a Cooking peppers compressed

1004a Three layers compressed

1005a Uncooked beans compressed

1006a Uncooked tavche gravche compressed

1007 Tavche gravche

1008 Tavche gravche and toast

We were divided on these: Ash liked them, but whilst Miranda didn’t actively dislike them, she found them a bit bland, and too oniony. We served them with some toasted sourdough which made for a meal that was entirely pleasant, but not really substantial or interesting enough for us for a main meal, even midweek. Most significant, though, was the sheer amount of time required to prepare them: six hours of soaking beans, followed by the preparations of the three different layers, and then another three hours of cooking time in the oven. Almost to a fault, we don’t use processed or pre-packaged ingredients – but we have to admit that if we want beans on toast in the future, 90 seconds in the microwave for a tin of Heinz (other brands of baked beans are available) will be what we choose!

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