IT’S MONDAY…

red beans with ham hock

Today is Monday which translates to red beans and rice for dinner.  According to my Grandmother Emma, Camellia red beans and rice is a loved traditional ritual that was served Monday.  In my head and stomach, Mondays were synonymous with red beans simmering on the stove while we washed clothes.  The kidney bean is a southern Louisiana staple but it is also found in many other cultures and cuisines.  For example, kidney beans are also used in a  spicy Indian stew called rajma masala and in sweet dishes such as Asian ice cream and hibiscus con dulce (sweet cream of beans).

RED BEANS

1 large smoked ham hock, or 2 large smoked neck bones, 1 pound bag red kidney beans, 1 1/2 tablespoon butter flavored shortening, 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped, 1/4 cup celery, chopped, 1 cup white onion, chopped, 1 tablespoon minced garlic, 1/4 pound cooked in the broiler until browned and crispy around the edges, andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices, ½   teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme, 1 teaspoon liquid smoke, 2 bay leaves,  3 cups cooked long-grain rice.

Get out a dutch oven, add the smoked meat, cover with chicken broth.  Bring to a boil, educe to a simmer, add 2 chopped garlic cloves.  Heat shortening in a skillet, sauté bell peppers, celery and onions till the onions are clear.  Add the   salt, cayenne, black pepper and thyme.  Add the bay leaves and dump all this into the pot with the cooked smoked meat. Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover everything in the pot. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat to a simmer covered continue to cook until the beans are soft to the touch.  Add the sausage and dump into the pot.  Cook covered  for another hour. Add a little more water and turn the heat up high.  The reason you are boiling the beans is to cause them to burst or what we call cream the beans.    When you can crush the beans between your fingers, remove the bay leaves, taste, add salt as needed.  Serve the beans over the steamed rice.

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