Red Beans and Rice

It all starts here Red Kidney Beans and a Smoked Ham Hock. Red Kidney Beans Three times this past week folks have mentioned Red Beans & Rice and I cannot get this simple treat out of my mind.  We...

It all starts here Red Kidney Beans and a Smoked Ham Hock.

Red Kidney Beans
Red Kidney Beans

Three times this past week folks have mentioned Red Beans & Rice and I cannot get this simple treat out of my mind.  We also saw a bit of winter in the South this past week and this might have sparked the interest in this comfort food.    I might have to break this Meatless campaign for a day and indulge in a bowl.

 Smoked Ham Hock
Smoked Ham Hock

If I am going to take the time to prepare this treat, I will want a second trinity of ingredients in Camellia Red Kidney beans, some good Andouille sausage and a ham bone or ham hock from a neighborhood meat shop.  I would not bother making this New Orleans Monday tradition without these foundational ingredients.  I am spoiled as I have a Cajun Meat Market just around the corner who can deliver on all three of these secret ingredients!   The Monday Pot of Red Beans & Rice has become a tradition with very humble beginnings.   The ham bone from the Sunday Supper was re-purposed as the base for creating a pot dinner while the laundry was finished.

There are many debates about this meal and the first one starts with the pre-soaking of the beans.  I follow the tradition and folk-lore of soaking my pound of beans with a slight teaspoon of baking soda.  Rinsing these red beans in water after this soak is another important step before adding them to the prepared stock for the second stage of the cooking.

I create my stock as my first order of business.  I start this with the ham bone or ham hock and a gallon size freezer bag complete with onions, carrots, celery and garlic discards.  Sometimes this bag might also include mushroom stems, some herbs in rosemary, thyme or chives, and maybe also some scallion ends or kale stems.    I will often make this rich stock ahead so that I can skim off the excess fat.  This is especially the case when making a meat stock.

The traditional Trinity within Creole cooking is onions, celery and green peppers.  I have changed this up to include yellow, red or orange peppers over green and I add garlic to this list of musts.

Here is the recipe I follow for my own version of Red Beans and Rice.  There are notes from Natalie DuPree, Lee Richardson and a gentleman who never wrote down this recipe before, but he was born and raised in New Orleans.

Red Beans & Rice

Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans & Rice

Ingredients:

  • Dried Red Beans – soaked overnight with a slight teaspoon of baking soda. ( I like a very tight Red Beans and Rice, so I make 2 pounds of beans.  Plus this freezes well and is even better the next day, so everyone can continue to enjoy this treat)   I will only use Camellia red kidney beans.  Try a Cajun market or a high end grocery store for these beans.

Ham Stock:

  • 2 quarts water
  • Ham Hock/Ham Bone
  • Vegetable Ends includingonions, carrots, celery and garlic.  These vegetable ends might also include mushroom stems, some herbs in rosemary, thyme or chives, and maybe also some scallions or kale stems.
  • 4 – 5 Bay leaves

Directions:

  1. Using a heavy bottomed stock-pot, place the ham bone/hock in about 2 quarts of water along with the vegetable ends and Bay leaves.
  2. Bring this to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Cooking this bone for about 1 ½ -- 2 hours.
  4. Remove any ham from the bone and save this for garnish later.
  5. Strain this stock.
  6. Discard the bay leaves and vegetables.
  7. Set aside until you are ready for this homemade stock.
  8. Skim the fat off the top of this stock by cooling this liquid for the healthiest results.

Vegetables for the Red Beans:

  • 4 -5 tablespoons olive oil

*** For another bump of flavor, you can brown the sausages that you have cubed ahead and create a wonderful fond to begin this saute for the vegetables.  I will still add olive oil to the pan post browning the sausages as there will not be enough oil to saute with just the fat rendered from the sausages .

  • 3 – 4 onions, chopped
  • 2 – 3 peppers, chopped.  Again, I prefer red, orange or yellow over green.
  • One entire head, celery, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced small ( optional, but I like this added heat)
  • 8 – 10 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Seasonings:
  • 2 – 3 Bay leaves
  • 1 cup fresh parsley, divided
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
  • ½  teaspoon salt ( you can always add more later if needed)
  • 2 tablespoons Creole Spice mix or Creole Seasoning mix

Directions:

  1. In a Dutch oven, warm a few tablespoons of olive oil and then add in the Andouille sausage that have been cut and cubed. Brown and then move the sausages to a plate and continue the saute on the vegetables in the same Dutch oven.
  2. Or, in a Dutch oven, warm the olive oil and begin to saute the onions, peppers and celery.   This should take about 10 – 12 minutes. Then add in the garlic and continue cooking. Careful not to burn the garlic.
  3. When these vegetables are softened, add the prepared ham stock and 1 – 2 pounds of red beans that have been soaked overnight and then rinsed.
  4. Then add in the seasonings, including only ½ cup of parsley at this time, use the remains for finishing.
  5. I add in my sausage about an hour into the cooking.
  6. Cook this slowly for about 2 hours checking on the beans. You want them tender but not mushy.
  7. Some will mash about half of the beans when the pot is done, others will leave them. This is a matter of preference.
  8. Taste for seasonings. Excellent on the first day even better the next day or two.
  9. I will garnish this with fresh scallions and parley and some ham chucks.
  10. Serve over a bowl of white rice and with some toasted French bread.

Meats for added seasoning:

At least 1 pound Andouille Sausage – I suggest you dice these and brown ahead to season the oil for the vegetables.  When I am making 2 pounds of beans, I will use at least 1 ½ pounds of sausage.

Then I will also use the ham off the bone.  I dice this for garnish.

I might also garnish with some hot peppers.

 

Enjoy this comfort food for the Southern and Creole soul.