Red Beans ‘n Rice on Meatless Monday

20 Mar

Now I know some of you think I may be immune to kitchen faux pas, but believe me every now and then I experience an oops. I’ve been in a NOLA state of mind from Mardi Gras posts on social media, food photos from chefs and food enthusiasts and chats about culinary doyenne Leah Chase.

Good Red Beans ‘n Rice add n’awlins comfort to any table.

I pulled out my red cast iron Dutch oven to indulge in “Meatless Monday” by cooking up some red beans and rice. The beans were soaked overnight; the ham hock thawed, the trinity chopped and all the ingredients were prepped.  The ingredients blended and the aroma of something good filled the house as the beans simmered slowly, cooking and cooking and cooking. I was ready for tender, flavorful beans, but to my dismay they did not get tender.

Though I was using dried kidney beans, from the pantry—there is such a thing as beans can be too old.  After chatting with Allison, a representative from Camellia Beans, my favorite brand of red beans, she shared “The beans should be cooked before the expiration date on the package. When they’re used beyond the expiration date, they can fail to turn into the soft creamy texture that folks enjoy.”

Now that I have this info, and I’ve learned what maybe a little known bean fact, I can make sure the next pot of beans are tender and flavorful, a close second to the beans that I’ve enjoyed in Louisiana.

Cooking Beans

Make sure you use the beans before the expiration date on the package.

Allow beans to soak overnight in enough water to cover before cooking. Drain and rinse.

After opening the package store any remaining beans in a cool dry place in an airtight container.

Red Beas’n Rice

Inspired by Uncle Kerry’s Red Beans & Rice recipe from Kim Sunée

1 (1-pound) bag dried kidney beans, soaked and rinsed

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 cups chopped sweet onion

1 1/2 cups chopped green, orange, red or yellow bell peppers

1 1/2 cups chopped celery3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 smoked ham hock (about 3/4 pound)

1/2 to 1 teaspoon liquid crab boil

1 teaspoon Creole seasoning

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

Green onion slices

In a 4-1/2-quart Dutch oven melt butter on medium high.  Add onion, peppers, and celery; cook, stirring occasionally, about 6 to 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in garlic, salt, and pepper; continue cooking 2 to 3 more minutes. Add smoked ham hock, beans, liquid crab boil, Creole seasoning, thyme, bay leaf and stir. Add enough water (about 2 quarts, maybe a little less) to cover beans. Stir, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to medium and let beans simmer, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender. If beans get too thick, add more water, about 1/2 cup at a time. Season to taste with more salt, pepper, or hot sauce.  Serve with hot rice and cornbread. Garnish with green onion slices, if desired. YIELD: 6 to 8 servings

NOTE: For creamy beans, smash some of them on the side of the pot with back of wooden spoon.

NOTE: If desired, substitute smoked turkey for the ham hock.

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