It’s Valentine’s Day. Faith, joy, and love are the best things in life. Agape love is the best. I am sending love to all my friends and family. Keeping with tradition and expressing my love through food, I am serving Red Beads and Rice, Hot Water Cornbread, Fried Chicken, and a simple Green Salad.
RED BEANS AND RICE
1 pound red kidney beans, 2 smoked ham hocks, 1 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch rings, 3 tablespoons bacon drippings or lard, 5 garlic cloves, chopped, 1 cup yellow onions, chopped, 3 celery stalks, chopped, 1/4 cup bell pepper, chopped, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme, 1 teaspoon sage, 2 bay leaves, 3 cups long-grain rice, cooked
Add the sausage to a tray and broil until they start to brown and turn up on the edges, drain the fat set aside Pour the beans into a bowl, enough water to cover the beans, and 1 tablespoon of salt to the beans, set aside for at least 3 hours. The outer pigment of the beans will cause the water to turn a darkish red color, pour this water off and add fresh water and soak for another 3 hours, set aside. While the beans are soaking, wash and clean the ham hocks under warm water. Get out a large dutch oven, add the ham hocks, and sausage with 6 cups of chicken stock or enough water plus 3 fingers to over. Turn heat to medium. While the ham hocks are cooking, get out a skillet, add the bacon drippings bell pepper, onions, garlic cloves, and celery saute until the onions are translucent. Add the vegetables, cayenne, black pepper, bay leaves, and thyme to the pot. Drain and rinse the beans, add them to the pot. Add more water to cover everything in the pot, bring to a rapid boil, reduce to a simmer, cover the pot and cook until the beans are fork-tender. Cook for another hour. It’s now time to taste and correct the seasonings if needed. Add a little more water turn the heat up high, start the beans to boiling. The reason you are boiling the beans is to cause them to burst or what we call creaming the beans. Creaming the beans create a gravy or a thickening of the liquid around the beans. If your beans do not cream, take out about 1 cup of beans out of the pot, add them to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher. Return to the pot and cook another 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and serve the beans over the rice, garnished with green onions.