A friend from New Orleans made a special request for this yummy Monday Tradition. So this one's for Weiqun and the crew of Maya!
Whenever we have a large group over for dinner or bring a covered dish to a pot luck you can usually count on us to create our signature dish - Red Beans and Rice. They don't call it The Big Easy for nothing!
- 1 lb bag of dried kidney beans- Our favorite is Camillia beans
- 1 lb seasoned ham or chicken thighs or even Jimmy Dean sausage
- Bay leaves
- Creole Seasoning- both dried seasoning and liquid hot sauce*
- Raw onion - chopped
- Cooked Rice **
* Crystal is a sweeter, less fiery version of Tabasco. And contrary to what many may think, Creole cooking is all about flavor not all hot and spicy.
** 2 cups water to 1 cup dry rice, bring water to a boil, add rice, stir then cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
This is an easy dish to prepare but the cooking time will vary with crock pot vs pressure cooker. In New Orleans this is a Monday tradition because Monday is wash day - the day to do your laundry. Once the simple prep work is done this easy meal can simmer in the crock pot all day without much attention - while you toil away with a week's worth of...well, you get the picture.
The most important thing to do is first hydrate the beans overnight in enough water to keep them covered throughout the soaking time. Soak the beans in whichever type cooking pot you will use. No sense dirtying another pot, right? You almost can't soak them too long so drop them in water before you go to bed and add more water in the morning if needed.
Just before you begin cooking, drain then rinse the beans and replace with fresh water. Again, use enough water to keep the beans covered by an inch or two. Add your choice of meat- Pickled ham is our favorite. Then give a few shakes of a dried creole seasoning like Tony Chachere's which can be found in most grocery stores across the USA. Toss in about 4 bay leaves. Turn the crock pot on low and simmer all day.
If you are lucky enough to have a pressure cooker aboard you can cheat a little and only soak the beans the next morning when you wake up and realize that you forgot to start soaking them the night before. Oops.
Once the beans have soaked for at least 8 hours, add your meat and seasonings. Don't forget the bay leaves! Lock down the lid of the pressure cooker and turn the burner on high. After it pressurizes and begins to shake, rattle and roll, let it continue simmering on high for about 15-20 minutes. Depressurize the pot according to manufacturers recommendation, careful to let the steam escape without burning yourself and give the beans a stir. Steal a few beans and test them for flavor and texture. The beans should be very soft and would turn to paste if you mashed them. Still too firm? Make sure there's enough water to cover the beans, just lock the pot back down and heat 'em up for another 10 minutes or so.
After you decide that the beans are just right, keep them covered and let them sit while you make your rice in a separate pot. DING! The rice is ready so just grab a bowl, scoop the rice and smother it with a few more scoops of yummy red beans. Careful not to eat the Bay leaves! RB&R won't be complete without a pat of butter, chopped onions and a shake or two of Crystal Louisiana hot sauce.
Voila! A boat meal to share with your cruising buddies...and as our friends Weiqun and Steve remember- it's delicious!