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 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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Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

Good on a cold night as a side or as a main course. Many people think they hate okra, mainly because it’s gummy or slimy, but in this dish (and gumbo) it uses that “slime” to help thicken the dish. Good with french bread.

Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

1/2 stick butter (substitute 1/8 cup olive oil for vegan)
1 large yellow onion
1 package frozen okra
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 toes garlic, diced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons creole seasoning

Melt butter in a large saucepan and add chopped onion and okra. Saute until onion is translucent and slime has mostly cooked out of the okra. Add all remaining ingredients. Season and then simmer slowly for 30 minutes or until it has acheived a stew consistency. Serves 6.

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Gumbo

Gumbo is one of those dishes that is both extremely flexible and extremely tasty. There are three main types of gumbo: Gumbos made with roux (a flour and oil mixture cooked together to add richness, color and flavor), gumbos made with okra and gumbos with filé (typically considered cajun). The recipe I am posting uses both a roux and okra, most people think you need to use one gumbo key ingredient; but I like the way it tastes together. You can leave out the okra if you find it slimy or leave out the roux… the wonderful thing is a gumbo is tolerant of additions AND subtractions.

Gumbo

  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 toes of garlic, diced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 lb. chopped okra (you can use frozen, but fresh is best)
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 can diced tomato (or 3 roma tomatoes, diced)
  • 8 cups vegetable, chicken, or seafood broth (or 12 cups water, the broth will taste richer; I usually use a combination of chicken stock, vegetable broth or sometimes some shrimp bouillon bloomed in boiling water, it depends on my mood and my cabinets)
  • Creole seasoning to taste (I use 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon crab boil
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons worchestershire sauce
  • black pepper to taste
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 4 cups cooked rice (brown or white)
    —–
    for meat eaters: add 1 lb. chicken cut up and 1 lb. smoked sausage
    for a seafood gumbo: add 1 lb. shrimp and 1 lb crab (you may want to substitute fish stock or shrimp stock for the vegetable broth)

First, you start with a roux… melt the butter in a stock pot and add flour. Cook until dark, you must babysit this so it doesn’t burn. Constantly stir the roux until it looks about the color of peanut butter (you can cook it longer for a richer taste, all the way to the color of chocolate). If it burns (even a little bit), you MUST start over. If you are using chicken, you may dredge the chicken in flour, fry that up first, set aside and start your roux along with the chicken drippings.

Add your onions, celery, okra and bell pepper to the roux, cook until vegetables are tender and the slime is cooked out of the okra. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

In a separate pot, fry the can of tomato paste in a little olive oil. You want to stir it until you achieve a mahogany color. Put browned tomato paste in pot with gumbo ingredients.

Add your sausage and cooked chicken now. For seafood gumbo, hold off until the last 2 minutes or so of cooking, overcooked seafood is nasty. Add broth/water and seasonings. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Now is when you want to test your seasonings. I like mine hot and spicy… I use a lot of Creole seasoning and black pepper. Cook mixture for about 30 minutes. Serve in bowls over 1/2 cup of hot white rice per serving. Serves 6-8.

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Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Moderate
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (can substitute chipotle pepper for smokiness)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
3 cups vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 package (12 ounces) frozen Recipe Crumbles (TVP)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup red wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
shredded Cheddar cheese or Soy Cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

DIRECTIONS:
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and garlic; cook 8 minutes, or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano; stir. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth, beans, TVP, pumpkin, tomatoes with their liquid, vinegar, wine/sherry, salt and black pepper; mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve chili topped with cheese or sour cream, if desired.

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Red Beans and Rice (not New Orleans-Style)

I make this in a slow cooker and let it stew for about 6 hours because the flavors marry better that way. If you don’t have time, this can be done within 30 minutes, but it won’t be quite as savory. I usually double the recipe as well… it freezes well. Caveat, these are NOT the red beans I grew up with in New Orleans, these have a far more caribbean feel to them… you can find a very good recipe for creole Red Beans and Rice here.
I don’t care what the previous generations have said about rinsing canned beans… do it. You’ll be much happier, believe me. You won’t miss any flavor. If you want the beans to be creamy at the end of cooking, you can take some out and mash them with a fork and then stir them back in.

Red Beans and Rice (not New Orleans-Style)

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes (or 6 hours for slow cooker)
Yield: 4 servings

1 can (15.5 oz.) Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper diced
1 onion diced
1 small can tomato sauce (4 oz.)
1 packet Sazon Goya without Annatto (if unavailable substitute 1/8 tsp. garlic power, 1/8 tsp. cumin, 1/8 tsp. coriander and 1/8 tsp. salt)
1/8 tsp. oregano
Goya Adobo with Pepper to taste (if unavailable substitute a combination of dried oregano, black pepper, salt, turmeric and garlic power in fairly equal proportions; use to taste)

2 cups cooked long grain rice

Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute both the onion and bell pepper until the onion is carmelized.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and set to the 6-hour (or equivalent) setting, or alternatively, combine all ingredients except rice in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat then simmer for 10 minutes or until it reaches desired consistency.

Serve over the cooked rice.