The making of the real deal – Red Beans and Rice
Part 2 of 2
So, you’ve made Red Beans before and some of you might have eaten it in New Orleans. Visiting there, it would not be hard to find red beans & rice on a menu. It’s a given dish and signature to many restaurants. My favorite is at the Gumbo Shop and Mother’s Restaurant serves up a mean dish as well. Believe it or not, Acme Oyster House rates up there with the best also. To those of you who have been there, ate that, you may ask, “why does it not taste the same when I get home?” Well, if you paid attention last week you will have the secret ingredient ready in your refrigerator (or freezer). Many purists still cook it the old Creole way. Let’s get going…
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
3 large stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
3 to 6 pieces pickled pork* cut into 1-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon hot red pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon liquid crab boil
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
6 cups water or chicken stock
1 pound Louisiana red beans, rinsed and picked over (or red kidney beans)
1 -8 to 12 oz can tomato sauce
Place the oil in a large 7-quart cast iron pot or a Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper. Stir frequently and cook until the onions and celery are tender and the bell peppers are soft, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pickled pork. Note: the more you add, the stronger the pickling flavors. If this is your first time, start out with just a few pieces. Add the next 8 ingredients along with the beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook until the mixture comes to a boil stirring frequently, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to a low simmer, cover and cook for about 3 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady low simmer (not boiling) and continue to cook for another 30 to 45 minutes or until the beans are tender to your liking. Add water as needed to maintain a good amount of liquid. Do not add the tomato sauce until the beans are tender. Stir in the tomato sauce and cook for 15 to 20 minutes uncovered or until the sauce is thick. If you prefer a more creamier texture for a delicious sauce, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.
Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cook time, see my rice recipe for perfect Creole white rice, and serve the beans over the rice. Many folks, like me, also serve a link of sausage on top of the beans. To cook the sausage, pierce the skin of desired amount and place a skillet. Add about a half-inch of water and simmer turning occasionally until all water evaporates and the sausage turns nicely brown.
There is an ingredient in this recipe that most do not have - Do you know what & why? Send me your comments.
*Picked pork is available at most Cajun grocers or see recipe.
photo from Goya