Red Beans and Rice--I don't know life without it. It was a staple in my Southern household. We ate it all year long, not just during the revelry of Mardi Gras. Instead of giving you my thoughts on this creole classic, I thought you would be humored by the thoughts of my husband. He is a born and bred midwesterner to whom all things cajun/creole might as well be from a different planet. At this time, I would like to introduce you to my husband and devoted taste tester, David.
Red Beans and Rice smells like the house of a voodoo priestess. "Now I'm gonna stab this live chicken in the neck and its still-beating heart is gonna pulse blood all over these dolls of your enemies and...hold on while I go stir the beans on the stove." It smells of humidity, Spanish moss, witch doctors, and mashed up folk religion. All in a good way, that is, to a nose that did not enjoy its pleasures until adulthood. There are seemingly eighty-seven levels of flavor in this dish, each one contributed by a different cultural source. Splash some Tabasco on a hot bowl and dig deep. Your dreams will have you running around one of those above-ground tomb cemeteries dodging ghosts and the like. O.K., at least mine will.
Alllrighty then. I guess what he is trying to tell you is that he really loves this dish. Slow cooked beans with sausage, ham hocks, and some veggies for good measure--what's not to love?
Red Beans and Rice
*If using Andouille sausage, taste the sausage for heat before adding cayenne and Tabasco
1 pound dried red kidney beans, picked over and soaked overnight in 8 cups (2 quarts) of cold water
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water
2 smoked ham hocks
2 large onions, finely diced
2 large celery ribs, finely diced
2 green peppers, finely diced
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
14-16 ounces smoked andouille or smoked kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
Kosher salt to taste
4 cups cooked white rice (2 cups of rice cooked in 3 cups water)
Tabasco Sauce (optional)
3 scallions, thinly sliced (light and dark green only)
In a large stock pot, combine stock, water, ham hocks, onions, celery, peppers, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, oregano, and peppers; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until the ham hocks are tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Transfer the ham hocks to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool. Drain the beans, add them to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for one hour. Shred the meat from the cooled ham hocks and add to the pot along with the sliced sausage. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally until the beans are soft and the mixture is thick, adding extra water or broth if needed. Season to taste with salt, cayenne, and freshly ground black pepper. Serve over white rice, garnished with sliced scallions and seasoned with Tabasco, if using. Enjoy!
Source: Years of watching my mother