Red Beans and Rice

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Red Beans and Rice cooked Louisiana style with a bit of Caribbean influence. Made with dried Red Beans and all the fixins', this is no 30 minute meal, but it is worth the wait.

Difficulty:
Serves: 6-8

Preparation time:
Cooking time:

Ingredients

1 pound red kidney beans, dry (Black bean work good too)
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
As much garlic as you like, minced (I like lots, 5 or 6 cloves)
2 large smoked ham hock, 3/4 pound of Creole-style pickle meat (pickled pork), 1/2 lb Fat Back, or 3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced, for seasoning
1 to 1-1/2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage, smoked ham, or Andouille, sliced on the bias
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
As many dashes Crystal hot sauce or Tabasco as you like, to taste
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
Creole seasoning blend, to taste; OR,
red pepper and black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh Creole hot sausage or chorizo, grilled, per person (optional)
Pickled onions (optional, but traditional)

Method

Soak the beans overnight. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans for about 45 - 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.
While the beans are boiling, sauté the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, then add the ham hock (or ham or pickle meat), smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn't burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot. (If the beans are old -- say, older than six months to a year -- they won't get creamy. Make sure the beans are reasonably fresh. If it's still not getting creamy, take 1 or 2 cups of beans out and mash them, then return them to the pot and stir.)
If you can ... let the beans cool, stick them in the fridge, and reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They'll taste a LOT better. When you do this, you'll need to add a little water to get them to the right consistency.
Serve generous ladles over hot white long-grain rice, with good French bread and good beer. I also love to serve grilled or broiled fresh Creole hot sausage or chorizo on the side. Substitute bean broth for water when making rice.

Other meats:
I've seasoned the beans with just about every type of smoked meat I've had available. I've found chicken or turkey parts, or pig's feet give excellent flavor as well. Smoke Venison sausage also goes excellent with this dish.

Alternate serving method:
Cook Beans into rice. Use 2 to 1 measurement for a more Latin style side dish.

Truth be told, Red Beans and Rice varies from week to week and every cook will make it their own. Use only as a guide to get started.

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