The quintessential New Orleans dish, traditionally served on Mondays (from John King, who works with me)
- 1 pound red kidney beans, dry
- 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)
- 1 to 1-1/2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage 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 [or red pepper if you prefer]
- A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
- Creole seasoning blend, to taste; OR red pepper and black pepper to taste
- Salt to taste
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.
While the beans are boiling, sauté the trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.
After the beans are boiled drain about 75% of the liquid. Add the sautéed vegetables, the ham hock (or ham), smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover the beans. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for at least 2 hours, preferably 3 until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it does not burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot. If it’s still not getting creamy (beans are old), 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, put them in the fridge, and reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They will taste a LOT better. When you do this, you will need to add a little water to get them to the right consistency.
YIELD: 8 servings
Serve over hot white long-grain rice with a few dashes of Tabasco sauce and French bread.
A lot of this is going to be trial-and-error, and it’s going to take a little practice before you get it right. You’ll probably want to fiddle with it each time you make it, and arrive at the exact, instinctual combinations of seasonings that you like. Feel free to alter this recipe to your taste, but don’t stray too far.