Bite My Kitchen by Gordana

Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac

45 minutes

easy

6 - 8 servings

A true staple in Serbia and across the Balkan region, Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac. This slow cooked dish is one of the many vegetable-based dishes found in most households and nowadays, restaurants. It is mostly made during the winter months or for special occasions, and as always, with slightly different variations or methods of cooking. It really doesn’t get more traditional than these comforting and delicious baked beans.

Serbian Baked Beans

About prebranac

In Serbia, you will find prebranac as one of the top recommended foods to try and with good reason. Aside from it being a delicious traditional dish, it is also prepared during Orthodox fasting, when no meat is consumed, or for other special celebrations.

You may have seen or tasted prebranac prepared with meat. However, a vegetarian prebranac is most common. To make the dish is not as laborious as it may seem. Most of the process is about soaking the beans and slow cooking. It is also a mostly inexpensive dish to prepare which still results in rich and comforting flavours. Made with lots of onions, a ton of beans, paprika, bay leaves, salt and pepper, this staple dish is simple, yet delicious. If you ask me, I think that Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac can be enjoyed any time, especially if you opt for meat-free alternatives often.

Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac

The traditional way

Traditionally, Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac are prepared the night before. Soaking the beans in water overnight is what takes up much of the preparation for this recipe. If you make this dish in the traditional way, you will need to soak the beans in water for at least 10 hours, drain them completely the next day and cook in a fresh batch of water on high heat for 30 minutes. It is important to drain the water one last time and cook the beans again (in fresh water) with bay leaves, paprika, salt and pepper until the beans are completely cooked. Overall, the process requires the water to be changed over 3 times.

In a separate pan, cook the onions and garlic until soft and caramelized, then you add the beans. The onions and beans are then transferred to a baking dish. Everything is baked in the oven where the liquid is reduced. In the end you get delicious, comforting baked beans, packed with flavour.

Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac

This version

Making the beans in the traditional way is simple but soaking and cooking raw beans takes time. While the traditional way is just that – traditional, you certainly can make prebranac with canned beans. You can use cannellini beans or butter beans.

This makes the recipe easy and accessible no matter where you live. If you can get your hands on dried beans – great! However, if you want to skip the soaking process or get straight into cooking the beans, using canned is a good alternative.

This recipe also uses vegetable stock instead of plain water. As for the leek – I have tried prebranac with leek years ago, and I loved it! That gave me the inspiration to create this version with mostly leek and some yellow onions.

Prebranac

Lets make it

This recipe has been simplified so that all you need to do is prep the ingredients, cook everything on the stove top, transfer to the oven and bake. Cook all the ingredients in a pot, then transfer to a baking dish. Start by heating the olive oil, add the chopped leek and chopped onions. Season with salt, cook stirring often, until the onions begin to caramelize (20 minutes). Add the crushed garlic, butter beans, vegetable stock, dried paprika, bay leaves and pepper. Cook on the stove-top, covered with a lid for a further 20 minutes, stirring halfway.

In the meantime, heat the oven to 180°C. Transfer the beans into a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on your oven). Cover with foil and bake. The butter beans should thicken, and most of the vegetable stock should evaporate. A good rule of thumb is that 80% of the liquid should have evaporated. The beans should not be completely dry. Remove from the oven, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Allow it to cool slightly and remove the bay leaves before serving.

Serbian Baked Beans

Looking for more recipes?

If you are looking for more traditional Serbian recipes, try one of these:

Serbian Grašak / Pea Stew

Shopska Salad / Šopska Salata

Vegetarian Chickpea Paprikash

Once you try this mix of caramelized onions and beans, you will love it! If you do, feel free leave a comment below and if you have a moment, please leave this recipe a rating. I would love to hear what you think, and if you make this recipe, you can tag me over on Instagram.

Reviews

Ingredients:

Adjust Servings
2tbsp olive oil
1 leek, chopped
3 brown onions, chopped
2tsp salt
2tsp crushed garlic
700g canned butter beans, rinsed
1L vegetable stock
1tsp dried paprika
2 large bay leaves
salt & pepper to taste

Directions

1.
Preparing the baked beans
In a large pot, heat olive oil and add chopped leek, brown onions and salt. Cook over low medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until the onions have softened and begun to caramelize (20 minutes).
Once the onions begin to caramelize, add the crushed garlic, and stir. Then, add the rinsed butter beans, vegetable stock, paprika, pepper, and bay leaves. Stir well, cover with a lid, and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
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2.
Baking the beans
After 20 minutes, transfer the beans into a baking dish and then into the oven, covered with foil. Bake for 45 minutes or up to 1 hour. Ensure that the dish has liquid about 1/3 of the way up. This prevents the beans from burning and that the dish does not completely dry up.
The butter beans should thicken. A good rule of thumb is that 80% of the liquid should have evaporated. The beans should not be completely dry so you may have to keep an eye out halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven, taste, and adjust for seasoning. Allow to cool slightly, remove the bay leaves, and serve warm.
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Notes
Serbian Baked Beans / Prebranac is best eaten the next day.
Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days.

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