Eggplant Dressing

This dish is similar to Dirty rice, but also uses eggplant. This makes a good side dish.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
2 tbps. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
4 medium eggplants, peeled & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 cup water, divided
salt & pepper to taste
hot sauce to taste
3 cups cooked and cooled rice

Directions:

Brown beef in oil. Add onions, bell peppers, eggplant, garlic and some of the water. Season with salt, pepper and hot sauce. Mix well. Cook on medium until eggplant is thoroughly mashed, adding remainder of water as needed to make moist. Add rice and mix well. Serves 4 to 6.

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Red Beans, my way

This is essentially the same recipe as the Creole style beans but uses lard from bacon.

Red Beans, my way

1 lb. red kidney beans (again, see if you can find Camellia beans)
1 lb. bacon
1 lb. smoked sausage
1 large yellow onion
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
10 cups chicken stock
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme)
2 toes garlic, minced
Kosher salt to taste (optional, the bacon has a lot of salt)
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 chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for one hour. While the beans are simmering, cook bacon in a heavy skillet. Set aside bacon pieces and drain off excess fat into a heat safe dish or jar. Put half of bacon fat back into your skillet and sautee onions. Leave the brown bits at the bottom of the pan (the gradoo), you will get a lot of flavor from this. When the onions have wilted, add bell pepper and sautee. When vegetables are wilted, add sauteed vegetables, bay leaves, and seasonings to the beans that have simmered. 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. Add sliced smoked sausage to the beans towards the last hour of cooking. Stir occasionally to prevent bottom from scorching. Adjust seasoning as you go.

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

Serves 6

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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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Creole-Style Boiled Rice

I hate making rice. I mean, how can something so seemingly simple, be so temperamental? It either comes out too dry with a hard crunch to each grain or it comes out a huge mass of gelatinous, white nastiness that just sits on the plate daring you to put something on it. Good white rice should spread out on the plate, not sit there taunting you. On my last trip to New Orleans, I was thrilled to finally be able to eat rice the way I remember it, separate grains and with a slight tooth, al dente if you will. Not mushy. Not sticky. Just good old plain rice.

I own a rice cooker and, I admit, it makes decent rice for red beans and gumbo. But often the bottom becomes crusty or the rice might come out a little too mushy for my taste and, quite honestly, the results are always a little disappointing. But, thanks to Danno over at Nolacuisine.com and the folks at Commander’s Palacerestaurant in New Orleans I have it… the golden chalice… perfect white rice. The key is to boil the rice like pasta until it is tender and then drain it. You can also dry the grains in an oven if need be, but when I make it (so far) it comes out perfect! “Why vinegar?” you may ask. It serves two purposes: one, the acid helps tighten up the grains of rice and prevent it from getting mushy and two, it helps make it very white. Recipe modified from Commander’s Palace cookbook:

Creole-Style Boiled Rice

1 cup long-grain rice, Basmati is good… I use Mahatama
1 quart water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 bay leaves (the recipe calls for fresh if you have access to it)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Bring the water, salt, and vinegar to a rolling boil in a large pot that has a lid, add the rice and bay leaves, and stir occasionally and gently with wooden spoon until the water returns to a boil. Stirring will release the starch, so avoid overstirring, and, when boiling, do not stir at all. The boiling prevents the rice from sticking. Cover the pot but with the lid slightly ajar to let steam out. Continue boiling for about 12 minutes or until the grains soften and water appears to dissipate. The grains will swell and become tender to the touch. Drain the rice by creating a small opening between the cover and the pot or use a colander. Season with additional salt and pepper.

Makes approximately 2 cups of cooked rice.

Dirty Rice

The first time G tried this, I asked “Do you want to know what makes the rice ‘dirty’?” The response was that he probably didn’t want to know. Growing up with creole/New Orleans food, it rarely occurred to me that something in a dish might be “weird”, now of course I often take great glee in that knowledge. While in New Orleans for the first time, G’s response to the food was: “It looks repulsive, but tastes divine” which if you’ve ever seen a “Pink Lady” sno-ball you would know where that statement came from.

What makes the rice “dirty” is chicken parts… not thighs or legs, but gizzards and livers finely diced until they “disappear” in the mix. Well made dirty rice is a classic creole dish that you probably ate at your grandmaw’s house as a kid if, like me, you grew up in New Orleans… and your grandmaw probably knew how to make it. I remember when Popeye’s was all the rage in the city during the 70’s and my grandparents complained about how nasty the dirty rice (now Cajun Rice) was… it had no flavah. If you spend the time to dice your vegetables and chicken parts fine; I promise, this will have flavah.

Dirty Rice

1 1/2 cups water
2 ounces chicken livers, trimmed
2 ounces chicken gizzards
1 pound ground beef or turkey
1/2 cup onion, finely diced
1/4 cup celery, finely diced
1/4 cup bell pepper, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, finely diced
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon Creole seasoning
6 cups cooked rice
1 cup minced green onion

In a saucepan combine livers, gizzards and water and bring to boil then simmer 15 minutes or until livers are no longer pink on the inside. Drain livers and gizzards in colander set over a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Finely dice livers and gizzards. In large skillet cook ground meat over moderate heat until it is nicely browned. Add onion, celery, bell pepper and garlic. Cook mixture, stirring, until vegetables are softened and the onions are translucent. Add salt, black pepper, creole seasoning, and reserved cooking liquid. Simmer mixture, stirring, until liquid is reduced to about 3/4 cup. In a large pot, add cooked rice to the meat/vegetable/broth mixture, chopped livers and gizzards, and green onions. Stir over low heat until liquid is absorbed. Like most creole dishes, I think this even better the next day.

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Creole Style Red Beans and Rice

It’s Monday… you know what that means.

Creole Style Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. red kidney beans (the best brand IMHO is Camellia, but you can use whatever local brand you can get. Mexican or Latin groceries might be a good place to look as well.)
1 quart water
1 quart vegetable stock/broth
3 tablespoons olive oil (2 tablespoons if using meat)
1 large yellow onion
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 stalks celery, diced (I don’t like celery in mine, it imparts a “too sweet” flavor that I don’t like much… you may opt out of using celery)
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme)
2 toes garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
Hot sauce (Crystal is best) to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (leave out if using meat)

Soak beans overnight in a large pot and use enough water to ensure the beans remain covered in water, otherwise they will harden and never “cream up”. Rinse beans and pick through them for rocks and dirt. Put beans back into pot along with liquids. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for one hour. While the beans are simmering, sauté onion, bell pepper and celery in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until onion is translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. After the beans have simmered for one hour, add sautéed vegetables, bay leaves, remaining olive oil 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 want to smash about a cup of the beans along the side of the pot and stir that in to make a thicker sauce, the consistency should be close to refried beans at the end but that (along with this recipe) is a matter of taste.

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

Variation: Traditional red beans and rice recipes call for meat, typically ham or pickled meat. Add 1 lb. of meat of choice along with vegetables and reduce amount of olive oil to 2 tablespoons. Meats that work well are: chopped smoked ham, a ham bone, chopped pickled meat, sliced andouille sausage, smoked sausage or Louisiana hot links. In the past, I have found that Turkey meat replacements (i.e. turkey ham, turkey sausage) do not give off enough oil, you will want to add your extra olive oil to compensate.

Another variation: add 1 can of tomato paste. Add this when you are sautéing the onion and caramelize the paste until it is a mahogany color. This is my favorite version… the acid of the tomato brightens the beans nicely. You may also want to try 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar instead.

Serves 6

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Jambalaya

Another flexible dish, like gumbos, with infinite combinations. There are two types of jambalaya that I am aware of; creole and cajun. Creole jambalayas use tomatoes and lean on the red side as a result, cajun jambalayas lean on the brown side and (as far as I know) don’t use tomato. The following recipe will be for a creole jambalaya.

I make jambalaya in a strange way… according to tradition. Rather than cooking the rice WITH the sauce, I cook them separately so that the rice comes out correctly each time. I found that when I did it the traditional way (cooking the rice in the sauce for an hour or so), the rice either came out underdone or mushy. If you choose to make it the traditional way, double the chicken/beef stock to 1 1/2 quarts.

Fin!

Jambalaya

1 lb. smoked sausage or andouille, sliced and browned
1 lb. chicken thighs, cut from bone, diced and browned
1/2 cup + 2 Tbps. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 toes garlic, diced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 quart chicken or beef stock
1 small can of tomato paste

1 tablespoon creole seasoning (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce

6 cups rice, cooked

Brown the sausage and chicken in half the olive oil in a large saucepan or iron pot. When meat is nice and brown and you get the “gratin” on the bottom, saute the trinity. Add diced tomato (juice and all), garlic, bay leaves, thyme and heated stock. Add creole seasoning and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes at least, preferably longer like an hour or two. While sauce is simmering, in a separate small pot take 2 Tbps. olive oil and heat over medium heat. Empty can of tomato paste into hot oil and stir, stir, stir. This is called pincé-ing. Stir until paste is the color of mahogany (deep reddish-brown). Add paste to sauce. This will serve two purposes: one, it will thicken the sauce slightly and two, it will add that extra bite. When sauce is done, add cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Serves 6.

Variation: you may use pasta instead of rice. Add 1 lb. cooked pasta. Bake in a preheated 350 degree; oven for about 30 minutes in a casserole dish.