Spring is taking its sweet time coming to the South this year and instead, we seem to have a lot of cold, rainy days (better than snow and ice that we were getting!). So, comfort food is still on the menu in the Pitt kitchen and Louisiana Style Red Beans and Rice will definitely do the trick in bringing in a little much needed spice!
As usual, my television is always on some kind of cooking show whether I am actually sitting down to watch it or not and this time it was The Chew to the rescue with Michael Symon’s version of Red Beans and Rice. Other than letting my beans cook a little longer (they weren’t softening at first), and when I mashed some of the beans, I actually followed the directions! I was even hesitant about putting the rice in the mixture, uncooked, rather than just serving it over rice but it worked!
1 pound Red Beans 1 pound smoked sausage; diced (preferably andouille) 1 Smoked Ham Hock Olive Oil Kosher Salt Freshly Ground Black Pepper 3 ribs Celery; small diced 1 Green Bell Pepper; small diced 1 Clove Garlic; minced 1 Yellow Onion; small diced pinch Cayenne 1/2 teaspoon Smoked Paprika 1 Bay Leaf 1 tablespoon picked Fresh Thyme Leaves 10 cups Chicken Stock or Water 2 cups White Rice; for serving finely sliced Scallions; for garnish your favorite hot sauce (I love Crystal hot sauce…I put it on EVERYTHING!)
Place the Beans in a large stock pot and cover with Water by a few inches. Let them soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain the beans and set aside. (Note: This step is very important and make sure you put enough water over them. Jeff did mine and didn’t quite get enough water in there and it took me a little longer to cook.)
Place the same stock pot over medium-high heat and add a film of Olive Oil followed by the diced Sausage. Cook, stirring occasionally until the Sausage is browned then remove and set aside.
To the same pot, add the Celery, Bell Pepper, Garlic and Onion with a large pinch of Salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables start to become tender and aromatic then add the Cayenne, Smoked Paprika, Bay Leaf, Thyme and Ham Hock.
Cook for a minute or two, then add the Chicken Stock or Water and Beans. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for 1.5 hours. (Note: I added and extra hour of simmer time to my mixture because my beans were not softening at all at this point which was unusual so use your best judgement on your timing. The beans should not be done but still more tender than when you first started.)
After 1-1.5 hours, add the Sausage back in, stir and cook for another 1-2 hours, until the beans are tender and thickened. If the Beans start to get too thick, add more Water or Stock, 1/2 cup at a time to loosen them up.
Remove about 1/4 of the beans and put in a bowl and mash the beans with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Mix back in with the other beans and sausage. (Note: the original recipe states to do this after adding rice but that just didn’t make sense to me.)
Simmr until ready to add the Rice 20 minutes before serving.
Remove the Ham Hock and Bay Leaf and give the Beans and Rice a taste, checking for seasoning. Add more Salt and Pepper if needed.
Serve with a few dashes your favorite Hot Sauce and a sprinkle of Scallions.
Bottom Line: This recipe should come with a warning that it serves an Army! The recipe stated 8 servings but it made quite a bit more than that so if you have 2-6 people, I would definitely half the recipe. That being said, it was delicious and tasted very similar to versions I have had in New Orleans. Obviously, I had a lot left over so you could use it as a side dish to some pork or chicken for another meal (that is what I did), or wrap it in a tortilla along with some cheese and sour cream and you have a bean and sausage burrito! Try this recipe at your house and let me know how it goes and until then Keep On Cooking!