New Orleans-Style Red Beans
My husband has talked endlessly about his mother’s red beans and rice. It was a specialty of her hometown, New Orleans, and she served it weekly when he was a child. I’ve tried many different ways over the years to produce a version that approximates his flavor memory, but only after a recent trip to New Orleans, where I sampled different styles myself, did I succeed. This is one of the most economical meals to serve for a tableful of guys, and it can be further enhanced with a topping of your sausage of choice, split lengthwise and grilled (as on the facing page). Serve over the white rice with a bottle of hot sauce within reach.
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and finely chopped
- 1/2 red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water
- 10 cups water
- 1 ham bone end, ham hock, or cured pork product of some kind (2 to 3 slices of bacon will work, too)
- 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf, crushed
- 1 recipe Basic White Rice
- Halved, grilled seared sausage (optional)
- Hot sauce, for serving
- Heat a large pot. Swirl in the oil. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until soft and lightly caramelized, 11 to 12 minutes.
- Drain and discard the soaking liquid from the beans and add the beans to the pot. Pour in the fresh water and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer uncovered for 1 hour. Skim off any foam as it rises to the surface.
- Add the ham bone, Tabasco sauce, salt, thyme, and bay leaf. Continue to cook until the beans are soft and tender, 30 to 60 minutes more. (The time will vary depending on the age of the beans, so taste frequently.) Using the back of a spoon or spatula, crush some of the beans against the side of the pan to create a slightly creamy consistency.
Quick Soak: Rinse the beans. Place in a large pot and cover in double the water. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Remove from the heat, cover, and let the beans soak for one hour. Proceed with recipe.