Red Beans and Rice
I got really hungry for red beans and rice this weekend. I'm not referring to the kind that I usually make with minute steaks, but the kind you get in New Orleans.
Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine), traditionally made on Mondays with red beans, vegetables (onion and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf), and pork bones left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. It is an old custom from the time when ham was a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos and gallo pinto.
I've been to New Orleans a couple times and I always get a plate of red beans and rice. The last time I was there was before Katrina. Easy E, W and I went down to Grand Isle State Park. We camped right on the sand.
We brought my kayak down so we did a little kayaking in the gulf of Mexico.
Then we headed up to New Orleans. I always eat at this little restaurant right next door to Pat O'Brien's.
I don't have a photo of the restaurant but I have a photo of their red beans and rice!
I have a few recipes for red beans and rice. I decided to try a new one by Emeril, but I modified it a bit. I don't like the way hamhocks smell when they are cooking, so I substituted ham instead.
pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
3 tablespoons bacon grease
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound ham
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water
4 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish
Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
In a large pot, heat the bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the grease in the pot. This is the Holy Trinity of cooking!
Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)
Remove from the heat. Take about ¼ of the beans and blend in the blender. Dump the blended beans back into the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.