Thursday, August 23, 2007

Red Beans and Rice

Last year, when finances were really tight, I had to come up with creative ways to feed a large crew. One very excellent blessing was that I learned to cook dried beans. What's even better...we actually liked them!

This is the best red beans and rice recipe I've found. It certainly takes time, but it's quite delicious!


Red Beans and Rice

1 pound red kidney beans, dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
As much garlic as you like, minced (I like lots, 5 or 6 cloves)
1 large smoked ham hock, 3/4 pound of Creole-style pickle meat (pickled pork), or 3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced, for seasoning
1 to 1-1/2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage or andouille, sliced on the bias
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
Tabasco to taste
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
Creole seasoning blend, to taste; OR,
red pepper and black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh Creole hot sausage or chaurice, links or patties, grilled or pan-fried, one link or patty per person (optional)
Pickled onions (optional)

Soak the beans overnight, drain and put fresh water in the pot. Bring the beans to a rolling boil, making sure the beans remain covered by water. Boil for 45 - 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.

While the beans are boiling, sauté the onions, celery, and bell pepper until onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, then add the ham hock (or ham or pickle meat), smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn't burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot.

If possible, cool the beans, refrigerate, reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They'll taste a LOT better. Add water to get them to the right consistency.

Serve over basmati rice.

YIELD: 8 servings

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