Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cajun Red Beans and Rice

Cajun Red Beans and Rice are a south Louisiana staple particularly in the winter months when you need something filling and warm. I never liked Red Beans and Rice because, growing up, my mother didn't pay much attention to them so they were always burned on the bottom and raw on top! Yuk. Then, as an adult, I came across this recipe and it is to die for! Yummmmm Yummmm! I can positively inhale these!

1 pound fresh red kidney beans, dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
5 or 6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large smoked ham hock or 3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced, for seasoning
1 to 1-1/2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage or andouille, sliced
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
Hot sauce to taste, I use Tabasco
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
Creole seasoning, I use Tony's (see Tips and Information)
Salt to taste
Parboiled Rice, (see Tips and Information)

Soak the beans overnight, or at least 3-4 hours. Drain the water and cover the beans with a double volume of fresh water in the pot. (This helps reduce the, um, flatulence factor.) Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans approximately one hour, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.

While the beans are boiling, sauté the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) in oil until the onions turn translucent. Add 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, smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours until the beans are nice and creamy, add water if necessary and crush some beans until it is creamy. You want this dish to be somewhat soupy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, to ensure the beans don't burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.

Cool and refrigerate overnight. This brings out the flavor. I clear room in the refrigerator and put the whole pot in there! The next day, add a little water and reheat.

Serve over hot parboiled rice with some buttered cornbread and some cooked greens. I like to serve some smoked sausage on the side that I've baked in the oven. Enjoy!