"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating." - Luciano Pavarotti

Monday, December 20, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice are made for Mondays, and according to lure should take up your entire Monday. According to Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at a New Orleans Table "Red beans and rice became a Monday staple for two reasons: it made good use of the ham bone from Sunday dinner, and cooks could stir the low-maintenance dish infrequently while tending to housework back when Monday was laundry day and people still set their washtubs over charcoal furnaces in the backyard". Some credit the creation to the African slaves, and other sources credit the French Canadians ousted from Canada (which became the Cajuns). The first step to most cajun and creole recipes is "your seasoning". Nope, that doesn't mean your mixture of dried herbs. The seasoning consists of the "holy trinity" which is your bell pepper, celery, and onion.

Mine indeed took all Monday, and was well worth it. I prefer my beans slightly meshed, and less runny because that was the first taste of red beans and rice I had in New Orleans. Instead of using a smoked ham hock, I used a smoked turkey neck. Another key to red beans and rice is Andouille sausage, I used raw from Whole Foods but smoked is just as good. Andouille is French in origin, and was later brought to the United States through Louisiana by French immigrants.

1 pound dry kidney beans (Camellia brand)
1/4 cup olive oil (I used the fat from my sausage)
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
6 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried parsley
2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning (I use Chief Paul's Meat Magic)
1 pound andouille sausage, cooked and sliced (save the fat)
1 smoked ham hock, or neck. (I used a turkey neck)
2 cups long grain white rice

- Rinse beans, and then soak in a large pot of water overnight.
- In a skillet, heat oil or sausage fat over medium heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Rinse beans, and transfer to a large pot with 6 cups water. Set in ham hock. Stir cooked vegetables into beans. Season with bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours.
- Stir sausage into beans, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes.
- Prepare rice according to directions on package. Serve beans over steamed white rice.
- Season with hot sauce. (Louisiana Hot Sauce or Crystals).

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