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Macedonian Gravče na Tavče

A traditional, hearty North Macedonian dish made with fresh beans and a variety of meats. Perfect for potlucks or chilly autumn and winter months.
Prep Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time 5 hrs
Soaking time 8 hrs
Total Time 14 hrs 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Balkan, French, Macedonian
Servings 6 people

Equipment

  • Large skillet or wok
  • Casserole dish
  • Pressure cooker (optional)

Ingredients
  

  • 750 g fresh pinto or kidney beans
  • 200 g beef sausage
  • 200 g smoked ham or ham hock
  • 100 g kulen or pepperoni
  • 4 tbsp lard or bacon grease
  • 2 large onions
  • 4-5 cloves garlic minced or crushed
  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 tbsp red pepper flakes Macedonian red pepper flakes, if you can get them
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 cubes chicken stock or a tbsp of Vegeta, if you have it
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • lots of parsley to taste (I use a lot)

Instructions
 

  • In a large pot, soak the beans overnight or for 6 to 8 hours. There should be twice as much water as is needed to just cover the beans and adding a tbsp of coarse sea salt to the water helps tenderize the beans. And no, I don't care what any crockpot-toting Tom, Dick or Harry says - you absolutely cannot skip this step.
  • Using a pressure cooker will significantly cut down the cooking time, but I prefer not to use one. I find that it does alter the flavor somewhat and the beans don't quite tenderize the way they do when they're cooked old-school, on a stovetop.
  • After the beans have soaked overnight, dump the water, wash the beans in fresh water, and refill the pot with water. Add the chicken stock cubes (or Vegeta) and chili powder to the water, then bring to a boil on high heat. Once the pot has 'turned' a 5-minute boil, turn down to medium or medium-high and let simmer for a good 3 hours until beans are entirely tender. Keep checking the pot every half hour or so and add water as needed.
  • When the beans have cooked, set them aside. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F and cube all of the meats.
  • Grab a large skillet or wok (you'll be adding all of the meat and beans to it later), put it on medium heat, and melt the lard or bacon grease in it. Chop the onions and caramelize them in the grease. Add the minced onions about halfway through caramelizing the onions.
  • Prepare the chopped meats and add them to the onions, a handful at a time, stirring after each addition. Saute until the meats release flavor and juices.
  • Add the beans, one ladle at a time, including the liquid. DO NOT DRAIN BEANS BEFORE ADDING. Add the other spices and parsley, stirring them into the dish well. Saute another 10 minutes until everything blends nicely.
  • Pour the entire contents of the skillet into the casserole dish and place in oven for about 30 minutes.
  • Serve hot with fresh bread, cornbread or white rice.

Notes

Because this is a traditional dish that's been around in this region for a very long while, this recipe is just one of many and I'm sure it's different from others out there. That also means that the meats listed here aren't etched in stone. I was taught that at least three different kinds of meats/sausages should be used in this dish, so feel free to add or change what you use. A little smokiness and at least one type of sausage, however, are a must for full flavor.  
Keyword bean dish, beans, cassoulet