Having Monday off for the Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday, I decided to cook one of the Louisiana's Monday staples, Red Beas & Rice. Why Monday? Because back in the day, Monday was the typical laundry day, and people would often stick a pot of red beans next to the water they boiled for said laundry, because it's not exactly something that needs a lot of attention. Essentially, you just throw everything in a pot of boiling water and let it simmer for a couple of hours. So, for those of you new to cooking, this is great starter recipe. But it's not a quick one -- good beans can take up to three hours. I basically took all afternoon and did this slow, because I had the time, but if you're not looking to cook this slow and lazily, you can basically bring the water to a boil, throw everything in and cook away.
Everybody in South Louisiana has their own version. Some like to use smoked ham or tasso, but I prefer using pickled pork because it breaks down fairly well during the cooking process and helps thicken the gravy's consistency.
If you're one of our more unfortunate readers that lives in an area where you can't find good, thick Andouille (if it's not chunky like you see in the above shot, it is not Andouille -- I'm amazed sometimes at the sausages people will try to pass off as it), any smoked sausage, like Kielbasa, can serve as a substitute.
One note to start with, is that it's always a good idea to put your beans in a pot, cover them in water and allow them to soak overnight. There's some debate as to whether or not this really adds much to the cooking process, but I'm definitely a believer that it can help shorten it a little, especially if you don't have a whole afternoon off to work with.
1 lb dried kidney beans
1 lb pickled pork meat, diced
8 oz Andouille, diced
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
3 bay leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp thyme
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp black pepper
¼ cup minced garlic
1 tbsp liquid smoke
1/4 cup worcestshire sauce
8-10 cups Water or chicken broth/stock
1. Remove beans from the pot, strain and discard water. Place the water or chicken stock in pot and bring to boil before adding the beans. In this case, I happened to have some frozen pork stock on hand that I made with some leftover pork chop bones. My grandmother would've been so proud of me for not wasting them.
3. Add the meat, seasonings, garlic, liquid smoke and worcestshire. Return the pot to a rolling boil and then reduce to simmer for another two hours or until they reach the consistency you're looking for. In addition to stirring occasionally, use your spoon to mash some of the beans against the bottom or sides of the pot in order to cream them and help the mixture thicken.
Again, if you're looking for a slightly shorter time, you can always just throw everything in the pot with your liquid, bring it to a boil for a few minutes and then reduce to simmer for a few hours, occasionally stirring and mashing the beans. Your cooking time can vary based on how thick you like it. Personally, I prefer my beans thicker. Serve over rice. Serves 6-8.