Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Greek Food: Gigantes Beans with Bacon & Cretan Graviera Cheese

Now, I have long enjoyed southern Greek versions of baked Gigantes, but when I was 1st introduced to the spicy northern variation I was immediately hooked. I have a thing for spicy dishes, especially during the winter months here in Canada. Thus, I thought it might be fitting to share my own seasonal spicy and savoury variation on the classic baked Gigantes theme. In addition to the boukovo, I added two unconventional ingredients to my recipe: thick-cut bacon and mild-flavoured Cretan Graviera cheese. The result was simply mouth-watering and I hope you will give this Greek comfort food recipe a try.


=½ lb. dried Gigantes beans
=¼ lb. Cretan Graviera cheese
=2 - 3 slices extra-thick cut bacon
=1 medium sized onion
=1 red bell pepper (diced)
=1 cup strained tomato pulp/sauce
=½ cup Olive oil
=3 garlic cloves
=A small bunch of Parsley, finely chopped
=1 tbsp. Boukovo or red pepper (chilli) flakes
=1 tbsp. dried Greek oregano
=Salt & pepper


=Soak the dried Gigantes beans overnight (use at least a 3:1 ratio of water to beans).

=Rinse and add rehydrated beans to a generous pot of boiling water and cook for 45
minutes over a medium heat, until the beans are soft. Using a large spoon, periodically skim away any surface foam that may develop.

=In a large sized skillet/pan, fry off the bacon until cooked but not completely crisped, then remove the bacon from pan but retain the fat. Cut the bacon into thin strips and set aside.

=Add the diced onion to the pan with the bacon fat and sauté until soft.

=Press and add garlic to the pan along with two tablespoonfuls of olive oil; stir for a few turns and then add the diced red pepper for several turns/tosses. Season with oregano, salt and pepper to taste.

=Stir in the tomato sauce along with 1 cup of water and half the bacon strips along with the chopped parsley and boukovo, bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and let simmer for 18 – 20 minutes.
=Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C and place an earthenware/stoneware/clay baking vessel in the oven to warm. (I prefer to use a Pampered Chef ® square stoneware baking dish).

=When the beans are cooked , drain them and add them to the pan with the sauce to combine.

=Take the heated vessel out of the oven, add the beans to it, pour the remaining olive oil over top and return to oven. Bake for 40 minutes.

=Remove baking vessel from oven; add cubed cheese and bacon strips over top of the beans and bake for another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted.

=Serve immediately along with some chewy sourdough village-style bread.

Makes 4 servings.

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