Red Beans and Rice
Red beans and rice is a comfort food classic. It is a versatile dish that can be a main course or a side dish, but either way, it will be the star of your dinner table. This is an easy dish to make, but it is time-consuming. The beans need to be cooked until they burst, release their starch and thicken into a thick stew. I cooked my beans for about 3 hours, but most of that time was spent playing Xbox and scrolling through Instagram.
DO NOT skip the sorting step. I’ve found everything from clumps of dirt to rocks to things I can’t even identify while sorting through beans. Unless you enjoy eating dirt or really like getting dental work, it is very important to sort through your beans.
When you season this dish is very important. I generally season every step of the way, but the sausage, ham hocks and store-bought chicken stock bring a decent amount of salt to the dish. Season the vegetables when you sweat them, and then at the very end after the beans are already cooked.
1 pound of kidney beans (I used the small ones)
1 onion, diced
2 ribs of celery, diced
2 green peppers, diced
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 pound of andouille sausage, sliced into discs. (I used the D’artagnan brand.)
2 smoked ham hocks
2 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
Enough chicken stock to cover the beans by an inch, plus more if needed.
Salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Parsley and green onions for garnish (a lot of people think garnish is unnecessary, but both the green onions and parsley add a pop of freshness that livens up this long stewed dish.)
- Sort through your beans, discarding any cracked or damaged beans. Cover the beans with cold water and soak overnight. The following morning, drain the beans in a colander and sort through the beans again. This time you should discard any beans that didn’t absorb any water.
- Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to a stock pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook until the sausage is golden brown and some of the fat is rendered. The sausage should give up another tablespoon or so of fat, but it will vary depending on the brand of sausage you use. Once the sausage is browned and the fat is rendered remove the sausage and set aside.
- Lower the heat to medium and sweat the onions, celery, and green pepper in the sausage fat. Season with salt and pepper. You want to soften the vegetables, but you don’t want to brown them. Once the vegetables are softened, add the garlic and saute until fragrant.
- Add the thyme, bay leaf, beans, ham hocks, sausage, and chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Do not season yet. The sausage, ham hocks and most store-bought chicken stocks will add a lot of salt to the dish. You don’t want to add more until you taste the cooked beans. Simmer the beans, uncovered for about three hours, checking on them every 30 minutes or so to make sure there is enough liquid to keep everything submerged. When the beans are done, cut the meat off the hack hock bones and chop into bite size pieces. The beans should be soft and creamy, and the liquid should be a thick gravy. Add the ham hocks back to the beans and check for seasoning.
- Serve the beans over rice and garnish with parsley and green onions.