Recipe of the week: Red Beans & Rice

Serves a Crowd

This recipe is subject to as many interpretations as there are Creole Cooks. Some cooks soak the beans overnight; some do not soak at all. Soaking rids the beans of that unfortunate extra kick that can give sensitive digestive tracts a problem.

Note: Red beans and rice are also served with fried chicken or pork chops.

Rapid-Soak Method:
Forget to soak those beans overnight? Cover with cold water and bring to a rapid boil. Boil for 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Rinse thoroughly with cold water (change the water two or three times) and proceed with the recipe.

2 pounds (four cups) dried red beans, soaked overnight or rapid-soak method
2 smoked ham hocks
1 bottle Abita Amber beer, or other local style beer (optional)
1 white or yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 green pepper, stemmed, seeded and de-ribbed and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
½ cup chopped parsley
10 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
3-inch stick cinnamon (optional)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
½ teaspoon Cayenne pepper
2 (2-inch) pieces salt pork, blanched for 5 minutes in boiling water
1 pound smoked sausage, such as Andouille or Kielbasa, cut into 3-inch lengths
Cooked white rice, for serving

In a large stock pot, combine the prepared beans, ham hocks, beer, vegetables, all the seasonings, salt pork and sausage. Add one gallon of water (be sure the water covers the beans by at least 2 inches). Place over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 3 hours. Remove the cinnamon stick and ham hocks.

When the hocks are cool enough to handle, pick off the meat and return it to the pot. Discard the skin and bones. Return to the pot and simmer for about 1 hour more, until the beans begin to break down. If desired, reduce the heat very, very low and simmer for another hour, for a total of 5 hours. For the best flavor, cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove one cup of beans and mash; return them to the pot. To serve, warm through over low heat, stirring occasionally. If the beans seem too thick, thin with water or chicken stock to the desired consistency. Ladle over white rice.

Recipe from Arnaud’s Restaurant Cookbook by Wit Whol

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