Saturday, November 8, 2008
Louisiana Red Beans & Rice
1 smoked ham hock
3 andouille sausage (roughly 3/4 lb.), cut in 1/2 in. diagonal coins
3 1/2 c. dried red kidney beans (you can soak these if you want, but I didn't)
Tony Cachere's Creole Seasoning
1 large bay leaf (preferably fresh, but 2 dried will work)
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 large yellow onion, diced pretty small
3 celery stalks, diced same size as onion
1 green bell pepper, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced finely (or grated)
8-9 c. water
1-2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil (I would not advise using olive oil, but that's more of a tradition thing for me)
1. In a LARGE pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Place the ham hock in the pot and "cook" for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove ham hock from pot, and place on the side (you'll need it again later). Do the same with the sausage "coins"- these only need 1 minute or so on each side. This is just to render a bit of fat and flavor from the ham and sausages for the veggies.
2. Dump all of your chopped veggies in, and cook in the oil/fat until soft. Add everything back into the pot (ham hock, sausage, seasonings, beans, etc.) and cover with 7-8 cups of water. (I found that starting with 9 was too much liquid at the end. Like everyone says, you can always add more later, but you can never take away too much.)
3. Boil the whole she-bang for 2 1/2-3 hours, uncovered, stirring frequently to keep beans from scorching the bottom of the pot. Remove the ham hock after 1 hr. of cooking. This can be used again to make soup later, so wrap it up tightly and stash that baby in the fridge.
*(You could probably do a short cut and use canned red beans, but I've found beans don't absorb as much of the smoky flavor from the ham and sausage since they're already cooked.)
4. When the beans are cooked (not mushy but not crunchy), mash about 1/3 c. of them with the back of your spoon, on the side of pot. This adds substance to it, and makes it creamy instead of watery.
Red beans and rice is typically served over plain, long-grain white rice, but I've apparently lapsed in my ability to make it, since I ended up with a gigantic clump of rice instead of individual grains. lol So I ended up eating mine over basmati rice. I imagine you could eat this over brown rice as well, to make you feel better about the ridiculous amount of delicious fatness in this dish, but really... why not just go all the way with good 'ole white rice? :-D