Red Beans & Rice

At one time red beans and rice was a dish reserved for Mondays.  It was a practical way to use up the leftover Sunday ham  and it could cook unattended for hours while the wash was done.  Now this dish is a favorite any day of the week.  When I make this, I like to brown my sausage ahead of time.  This not only renders out some of the fat but also makes the sausage much more flavorful.  If you can’t find dried red beans in your area, kidney beans make a great substitute.

1 pound red beans or kidney beans
1 large onion, diced (approximately 2 cups)
1 cup celery, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 pound andouille or other smoked sausage (I use Conecuh Sausage from Evergreen, AL)
1 ham bone or 2 ham hocks
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp salt
4 cups chicken stock
black pepper, to taste
slice green onions or chopped parsley for garnish

The night before, pick through the beans and remove any rocks or dirt clods.  Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water and let soak overnight.  The next day, drain and rinse the beans and set aside.

Slice the sausage into bite sized pieces and brown over medium heat in a large stock pot or dutch oven.  Remove the sausage to a bowl and refrigerate until later.  Carefully drain off as much of the hot grease as you can and place the pot back on the burner.  Add the onion, celery and bell pepper.  Saute for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables soften.  Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add in the beans, bay leaves, cayenne, thyme, ham bone or hocks, Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover the pot and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the beans are very tender.

To thicken the red beans carefully dip out 2 cups of beans and put them in a bowl.  With a fork, mash the beans until smooth.  Add back into the pot and stir well.  Add the sliced sausage and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Serve over rice and garnish hot sauce and sliced green onions or chopped parsley.

This recipe was adapted from two of my cookbooks: New Orleans by the Bowl by John DeMers and Gumbo Shop: Traditional and Contemporary Creole Cuisine by Richard Stewart

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