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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

   This is one of the ugliest dishes I make, but has the best flavor. I thought the boys wouldn't touch it (they are not real big on the Midwestern version of ham and beans), but they tasted this and passed the word. I made cornbread on the side and the stuff disappeared.
   It may look like a lot of ingredients and trouble, but not really. Soak your beans overnight, and then just add veggies, meat and spices and let it cook. Not much fuss at all. On lean weeks, I've omitted the ham and hocks and the taste is always good, it's just better if you have more meat, imagine! This an excellent way to use leftover holiday ham.


Red Beans and Rice
1 lb. red beans, rinsed and sorted
3 T. bacon grease
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped tasso or ham
1-1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
2 bay leaves
2 T. parsley
2 tsp. thyme
1 lb. smoked sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces (andouille would be great if you can get it)
1 lb. smoked ham hocks (optional)
3 T. chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water
4 cups cooked white rice
1/4 chopped green onions, garnish (optional)
hot sauce to taste (optional)

Makes a huge pot that would feed 10-12. I usually cut the recipe in half.


Preparation -
Put beans in large pot and cover with a couple inches of water. Let soak overnight. Drain and set aside.

In large pot, heat bacon grease. Add tasso or ham and cook, stirring for a few minutes. Add onions, celery and peppers. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne, stirring often. Cook about 5 minutes until veggies are tender. 

Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage and ham hocks. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for a minute more. Add beans and chicken stock (or water) and bring to boil. Stir well.

Reduce heat and simmer in uncovered pot until beans are tender and start to thicken. Simmer at least 4 hours, stirring occasionally. (If beans become to thick or dry, add more water, a little at at time.) Put lid on pot with a crack open after a couple of hours.

Remove from heat and with back of heavy spoon, mash about half the beans against the side of the pot. Stir well. Continue cooking until beans are tender and creams. Remove bay leaves and serve over rice.

Note - I like beans thick and creamy, just two shades from the refried bean look and texture. If you don't have the ham or hocks, don't worry, as long as you have the smoked sausage it's good. I've also substituted 1 tsp. celery seed for the real thing. If you like your beans with more texture, reduce cooking time by 2 hours.
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