Prebranac is a traditional dish in Serbia, popular in other Balkan countries, very cheap to make, nutritious and best served in winter.
While it might look hard to make, prebranac is actually fairly easy to prepare. It has just four ingredients plus a few spices.
If you prefer it to have a slightly more soup-like taste, you can also add one sliced leek before baking.
This is a vegetarian recipe, but you can also add a sausage or some dry meat. In Serbia people tend to eat it when fasting.
Tip: Soak the beans overnight.
Ingredients (for 6 people):
- 500g white beans
- 3 larger onions
- 4 cloves garlic
- 100 ml oil
- salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, bay leaf
Preparation (cooking 1-2 hours, baking 1 hour)
If you forgot to soak the beans the night before don’t worry, you just have to repeat step 1 below twice.
- Put the beans in a larger pot and pour water to cover the beans and a little more (two fingers). Add a bit of baking soda to ease the explosive effects of the beans. Bring to a boil and let boil for five more minutes.
- While the water boils, mince 2 onions.
- Drain the beans and add fresh water to cover the beans and onion, which you can now pour in. Add salt to taste (some people add it at the end, but I find it easier to taste it than to guess if it’s salty enough). Let it simmer on medium head for about an hour or two (try it from time to time to see if the beans are cooked). You’ll know the beans are cooked when they start releasing their “flour”. When the beans are cooked, let the excess water evaporate.
- Preheat the oven at 200o C. Slice the remaining onion.
- In a casserole or oven-suited pot prepare the roux: pour oil to cover the bottom and a little more, fry the sliced onions, minced garlic and two teaspoons of cayenne pepper. If you like it more dense and creamy, add a bit of flour too. Remove from fire and add the cooked beans. Add black pepper and 2-3 bay leaves. Stir to blend it all.
- Put the casserole in the oven and bake at 150o C for another hour.
Prebranac is best served with roasted bell pepper salad or sauerkraut. It can be served as a side dish or as a main course.