The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Indeed, my heritage is beautiful to me. ~ Psalm 16:6 nasb

Monday, March 9, 2015

Red Beans and Rice

My neighbor Lorraine--she's such a great neighbor; you've read about her generosity in past posts--gave me a package of ham hocks.  I thought I'd use them in split pea soup, but someone mentioned red beans and rice.  I thought, why not.  Thus began my Internet Pinterest exploration for good recipes, of which I combined two into my own, and here it is.  As usual, the recipe's at the end.

You'll notice the sausage--not the ham hocks--in the pictures here.  I didn't take pictures until I knew the recipe was a keeper.  So, after the the guys' applause and general adulation of my amazing cooking abilities, and after I made the recipe a second time, I took pictures.  And this time, I used organic chicken sausage because it's what I had.

Attention:  If you don't eat meat, or use it sparingly, simply remove the meat portion of this recipe!  It's great meatless, too.

To spice things up, I add some Cajun seasoning, because, after all, this recipe originates from Louisiana Cajun territory.  I love Penzey's Spices, and their spice blends.

Let me tell you something, though.  This little jar of yumminess costs almost eight dollars.  Yikes!  I bought it because I needed it, but you'll be seeing my homemade version soon, because there ain't no way I'm spending that kind of money again on something I can make myself with ingredients I already have in my pantry.

This sure is some awesome seasoning, despite the price!

This recipe also involves soaking dry beans overnight, then simmering them with all the added stuff for 2-3 hours.  All those flavors are gettin' happy, mixin' and minglin' together all that time--no way it's not going to be delicious!

As promised, here it is.  Enjoy!

Red Beans and Rice

3 cups dry red beans (about a pound)
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
2 cups chopped green pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced (or garlic to your taste)
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup freshly chopped parsley (about 3 teaspoons dry)
1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (I use Braggs--the really good stuff!)
Tabasco sauce to taste, maybe 5-6 shakes

Sort and rinse beans.  Place in large (six-quart) stock pot and cover with cold water; soak overnight or longer.  Drain beans and set aside.

In the stock pot, sauté chopped onion and celery in a little butter (or oil, or rendered pork lard) until translucent.  Add green pepper and sauté a few more minutes, then add the garlic and sauté a minute or so longer.  Add the beans back to the pot, then add all the remaining ingredients except the Tabasco sauce.  Cover with water, bring to a boil, replace the lid, and simmer about three hours or so until the beans are tender.

I stir this every now and then throughout the cooking process, and about 30 minutes before I deem it ready, I check the liquid.  My guys don't like it too soupy, so if it's that way, I remove the lid for the last 30 minutes (turn the heat up a bit to keep it at a simmer).  If at any point there's not enough water, add some boiling water in.  The hot water will help keep everything simmering, so that you don't have to turn the heat up to bring it back to a simmer.

Before serving, add the Tabasco, stirring in.

We love this served with rice, white or brown.

The last time I placed an order with our farmers (love them and their pasture-raised food!!), I ordered ham hocks--two packages.  They're less expensive than other meats, they're delicious, and I needed them because we make this recipe on a regular basis now.  Yum!

Update:  I used my farmers' ham hocks for this recipe, and I gotta tell ya.  That was the best bowl of red beans and rice I've made yet!

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