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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In Honor of Mondays and New Orleans: Red Beans and Rice (in the crockpot!)

Red Beans and Rice

In the spirit of my new found lease on life, I decided that a traditional New Orleans meal was in store for our dinner last night. My sister-in-law has a very fabulous habit of bringing me traditional food items from the places she visits. And last time she went to New Orleans, she brought me Camellia brand red kidney beans (also file powder and Peychaud's bitters, YUM). The beans have been sitting patiently in my cabinet, waiting for me to be inspired, but yesterday they met their maker.

I actually started soaking them Sunday early afternoon, and then drained them, rinsed them, and popped them in the fridge overnight. Sunday night, I did the rest of the prep so that everything could be thrown in the crockpot yesterday morning without much time involved. Mornings in my house are HAIRY, and I knew I would not be up for chopping and sauteeing.

Before I share the recipe, a few notes. It is very cool to make these on Monday, because that is traditional red beans and rice day in New Orleans. You can read more about that story here, but suffice to say, it is always cool to follow tradition. Also, the original recipe is not a crockpot recipe. I adapted my version from an Emeril Lagasse recipe that most certainly did not involve any type of slow cooker, but these beans need all day to cook, and I do not have all day, my friends. Finally, the question of ham bone or NOT to ham bone is a personal one. I did not have any ham bones laying around, so I left it out. I think if you want to include one, it would be awesome. (But, if you do, pull it out before serving to shred off the meat and discard the bone.)

This recipe must be served over white rice (trust me). I used my rice cooker on timer to do this so that everything would be ready when we got home from work.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a red one, but I think green would be better)
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 links andouille sausage (feel free to use the chicken type if that's how you roll)
2 teaspoons dried thyme
4 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water or chicken stock

Saute the onion, bell peppre and celery in the oil for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the sausage, thyme, bay leaves and garlic, and saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add to the crockpot along with the beans and the liquid. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Before serving, mash up some of the beans a bit with a spoon, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over white rice with lots of hot sauce.

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