Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
Serve this up on a cold winter night with some collard greens cooked with bacon and onion, add some hot cornbread, and laissez les bon temps rouler!
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1 lbdried small red beans (not kidney beans)
1 1/2 lbsmoked sausage, cut into chunks
2ham hocks or 1 hambone
1 mediumsweet yellow onion, chopped
1 cloveminced garlic
1 tspdried thyme (or 1 tablespoon fresh)
1 tspblack pepper
1/2 tspsage (or 1 1/2 tsp fresh)
1/8 tspcayenne pepper
·salt to taste
·freshly cooked white rice
dash(es)tabasco sauce (louisiana hot sauce) [optional]
How to Make Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
- Rinse beans thoroughly, sorting out any stones or foreign matter. Put into a large pot, cover with water and boil for ten minutes. Remove from heat and soak overnight (or 8 hours).
- When ready to start cooking, drain the beans, rinse and put into a large pot or Dutch oven. Add fresh water to cover. Add sausage and ham hocks or hambone, then add onion, garlic and all seasonings EXCEPT salt, then bring to boil over medium high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until beans are tender, adding hot water if necessary to keep them from drying out. Beans are done when you can blow across the spoon and the skins split.
At this point, you can either serve immediately (if you want a lot of liquid) or you can cut the heat to low and allow it to cook gently for a few more hours. or until the broth reduces. Do not allow the broth to evaporate entirely, however.
- When ready to serve, make your rice (any kind of white rice will do.)
Note: I've had questions about the kind of rice I usually use for this. While plain old Minute Rice will stand up well, I've had the best luck with arborio rice.
Recipe for arborio rice:
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 medium sweet yellow onion, diced
2 T olive oil
2 T butter
dash dried thyme
salt to taste
Heat olive oil and butter in large skillet on medium heat. Sauté diced onion for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add rice and sauté another two minutes, stirring frequently to keep the rice from sticking. Add one cup of chicken broth and reduce temperature to medium low, stirring occasionally. Cook until broth is absorbed. Repeat with next two cups of broth. Rice should be slightly creamy, like a risotto. Add a dash of dried thyme and salt to taste.
- While the rice is cooking, remove ham hocks or hambone, pick off meat and/or marrow, chop meat, then return meat and/or marrow to the pot. Discard bones. Add salt to taste and serve over fresh, hot rice.
Note: It's best not to combine the rice and the beans in one pot. The beans are even better the next day, but the rice will swell up and become glutinous. It's best to make just as much rice as you need at the time, and make fresh rice the next day for your leftovers.
- Note: Our Cajun friend prefers using andouille sausage for this, which is very hot and spicy, and even recommends a dash of Louisiana hot sauce if you're *very* brave. Andouille is a little too hot for us, so I use this pecan-smoked venison/pork blend that's got a fair amount of black pepper in it, but isn't overly hot. However, regular old pork smoked sausage or kielbasa will work, if you need this dish to be very mild. I don't recommend beef smoked sausage, as it doesn't combine well with the other seasoning meats.
This is a great and easy meal for the holidays, since it can be kept warm for hours and easily stretched to serve more if you have unexpected company. Just toss in some more sausage and add some more rice, and you're covered.
Small red beans are readily available in most parts of the South and Southwest, but may be more difficult to come by in some parts of the country. They are available through Amazon or other mail order alternatives. It's worth the effort, as they make a definite difference in taste and texture versus regular kidney beans.