Red Beans, my mom’s way

This is essentially the same recipe as the Creole style beans but uses more of a country flair that folks in Southern Mississippi or Bogalousa might take. This recipe is good if you are using older beans, the marrow from the bones helps thicken your sauce. The smoked ham also adds a flavor that is rich and complex that you won’t get out of a bottle of liquid smoke. It takes a bit longer if you try to do it all in one day, but you can make the ham stock in advance and refrigerate or freeze it for later use. G. said this recipe reminds him of the beans at Mother’s on Poydras and Tchoupitoulas.

Red Beans, my mom’s way

1 lb. red kidney beans (again, see if you can find Camellia beans)
2 quarts ham stock (see below)
1 large yellow onion
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme)
2 toes garlic, minced
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon creole seasoning or to taste
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
Hot sauce (Crystal is best) to taste

Soak beans overnight in a large pot and use enough water to ensure the beans remain covered in water. Rinse beans and pick through them for rocks and dirt. Put beans back into pot along with ham stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for one hour. After the beans have simmered for one hour, add vegetables, ham (picked from the ham shanks… you can throw the bones in there, too. Just be sure to pick them out when the beans are done.), bay leaves, and seasonings. Bring back up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 2 more hours or until beans have become tender and made their own thick sauce. Stir occasionally to prevent bottom from scorching. Adjust seasoning as you go. You may need to smash about a cup of the beans along the side of the pot and stir that in to make a thicker sauce, sometimes if the beans are not so fresh they won’t cream up as well… that’s why you need to get Camellia beans.

Serve over hot white rice, use at least one cup cooked rice per serving.

Serves 6

Ham Stock

4 quarts cold water
2 lbs smoked ham shanks or hocks (hocks are fattier but have more flavor, if you want more meat use shanks)
1 large onion cut up
1 large bell pepper cut up
3 stalks celery cut up
small handful black peppercorns
3 bay leaves

Place all your ingredients in a large stock pot and pour your water over everything. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 3 hours. Occasionally skim the fat and protein scum off the top. After 3 hours pour through a fine sieve into a large pot and skim off the excess fat. Reserve the liquid and pick through the ham bones for any meat you’d like to reserve, you may toss the rest. You may use this immediately for your red beans or refrigerate it for later use. Refrigerating the stock will also allow you to get any extra fat you may have missed by skimming.

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4 thoughts on “Red Beans, my mom’s way

  1. Hey Tim,

    You’ve got me hungry for some red beans now! I love your use of Ham stock, I hadn’t thought of that one, I can just imagine happy beans simmering away in all of that smoky goodness.

  2. I am so glad that you started this blog. Being from New Orleans I am always looking for great recipes. I have the NOPSI cookbook and some of my grandmother’s recipes…but it is always a treat to find another person that loves the food as much as I do. Keep posting those recipes!!

  3. Thanks, Robin… all-a-y’all’s comments mean a lot to me.

    I’m glad I started this blog too! It’s just my (small) way of keeping my grandmother’s and New Orleans’ spirits alive from afar.

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