Cooking With Metachat!

Sunday, December 11, 2005

taz's red beans and rice


So, I know you all have your own recipes, and it's really just a very simple dish... but I'm still going to give you my (non-vegetarian) version because of that whole rocking-the-universe thing. First of all you should know (if you don't) that in old New Orleans Monday was always red beans and rice day, because Monday was laundry day, and since it's so easy to throw together and the major ingredient in fantastic red beans is cooking time, it was a perfect dish to put on the stove and leave for several hours while otherwise occupied.

So, it's easy, but it's not fast... and since it's always best the second day, I usually start it the afternoon or night before I want to eat it. Here's what to do:

Soak a pound (or 500 grams) of kidney beans overnight (or during the day of the evening you are going to start cooking).

In a large soup pot begin sauteeing some fatty bacon or ham (optional. I just throw in a handful) in some oil (of course, I use olive oil).

Chop a nice large (or two medium) onions, a couple stalks of celery (with leaves) and three cloves of garlic, and add to the sauteeing mix.

Then slice up some smoked sausage (I use a pound), and throw that in as well.

... and, guess what! You're almost done with the whole "preparing" part of this dish...

After all this has sauteed enough to make you feel all warm and fuzzy (or just 'til the veggies are nice and thouroughly wilted), add the (drained) kidney beans and cover with water, leaving just enough room in the pot so that it won't bubble over.

Add lots of black pepper and as much cayenne or other hot red pepper as you like, stir it all up, cover the pot, and let it cook And cook, and cook...

You can either keep it on a somewhat sane temperature so that it only simmers, or you can do what I do, and let it boil and bubble away (checking and stirring fairly often). Either way, as the liquid cooks out, keep adding more water until the dish achieves the proper state of bliss. This would be when the beans have broken down enough to create a wonderful thickish, velvety gravy.

I can't give you exact times, because the beans always have their own agenda; sometimes they cook up relatively quickly, and sometimes they take forever. All that matters is that the beans are nice and completely tender and the whole mess has a lovely creamy consistency. These beans were a little recalcitrant, and I cooked mine about six hours all together (three hours last night, and another three hours today).

At some time in the cooking process, you'll want to add salt, but not until the beans have become tender (otherwise they will take longer to soften up!). I also add a little bit of strong coffee as it's cooking - maybe an eighth of a cup.

Serve over rice, and pass the Tabasco.

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