Red Beans and Rice, beans are beans and rice is rice, right?

Red Beans and Rice is not made from a can or box of seasoning.

I was 20 years old and visiting one of my friends and his Mother when the conversation turned to food.   Jim's mother told me she was from the south.  To me it was the 'south of what'? But she continued with stories about some great foods, and Red Beans and Rice in particular. Probably because that was what was on the table before us.

Now to me, beans were beans and rice was rice, but what I was eating sure didn't stop there as it was just something new and wonderful.  I never did get a recipe from Doris, and didn't really give a lot more thought to the subject, I just remembered how good it was.

A few years later after subscribing to the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbook series, the Creole-Acadian issue showed up and like fate it seemed to drop open to Red Beans and Rice. Oh ya, my interest was on high.

Now I can tell you that there is no short cuts to this meal. It takes forever to cook and tastes like heaven when you scoop a mouthful.

I see recipes for all kinds of short cuts from our Southern Celebrity Chefs and wonder how they can refer to a few cans of red beans and some andouille from a supermarket as Red Beans and Rice.

Now when put down some store bought sausage I need for you to understand that I live in Oregon. You may find some great Andouille in a southern supermarket; I mean you have Trappy's down there. We don't.

I think the major sausage makers in our stores make one sausage, a form of kielbasa and then change the label if they include some liquid smoke, oh the shame of it.

So why this recipe is so great, time and ham hocks. Lots of ham hocks with lots of marrow and the time to cook it out of the bone and into the dish, then at the end you take the back of a serving spoon and mash some of the beans to create a fantastic gravy.

Go for it, you will not be disappointed. Please don't take any shortcuts.

This recipe is straight out of the Creole and Acadian Time-Life Foods of the World series of cook books.

RED BEANS AND RICE
Serves 4-6

6 cups water
1 pound dried small red beans or 1 pound dried red kidney beans
4 Tbsp. butter
1 cup finely chopped scallions, including 3-inches of the green tops, divided use
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
1 tsp. finely chopped garlic
4 cups water
1 (1 pound) smoked ham hock
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6 to 8 cups freshly cooked long-grained rice (for serving)

In a heavy 3-4 quart saucepan, bring 6 cups water to a boil over high heat. Drop in the beans and boil briskly, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour. (Alternatively, you can soak the beans over night in water.) In either case, drain and rinse the beans in a sieve set over a large bowl. Set the beans aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy 4 or 5 quart casserole or stockpot. When the foam begins to subside, add 1/2 cup of the scallions, the onions and the garlic and, stirring frequently, cook for about 5 minutes, or until they are soft and translucent but not brown.

Stir in the beans and 4 cups water, the ham hocks, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer partially covered for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the beans are quite soft. Check the pot from time to time and, if the beans seem dry, add up to 1 cup more water, a few tablespoons at a time. During the last 30 minutes or so of cooking, stir frequently and mash some of the softest beans against the side of the pan to form a thick sauce for the remaining beans.

With tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer the ham hocks to a plate. Cut the meat away from the bones and remove and discard the skin, fat and gristle. Cut the meat into 1/4-inch dice and return it to the beans.

Taste the beans for seasoning and serve at once, directly from a large heated tureen. Place the rice and remaining 1/2 cup of scallions in separate bowls and present them with the beans.

Note: In Louisiana, red beans and rice are traditionally made with a leftover ham bone and you may substitute a ham bone for the ham hocks in this recipe. Without trimming off the meat, cut the bone into 2 or 3 inch pieces with a hacksaw, so that the marrow inside the pieces will melt and flavor the beans. Add the pieces of bone to the soaked beans and water and pour in enough additional water to cover then completely. When the beans are cooked, remove the bones from the pot, trim off and dice the meat, and return it to the beans. Discard the bones.

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bjones

I love to read and cook, and I am at the age I am not afraid to share my opinion. There is the right way, the wrong way and Bill's way. 🙂
bjones
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