Today is Monday which translates to red beans and rice. 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 habichuelas con dulce (sweet cream of beans).
Pour the beans into a bowl, add enough water to cover the beans plus 2-fingers and 1 tablespoon of salt to the beans, set aside for 5-6 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. At the same time, the beans are soaking wash and clean the smoked meat under warm water. Get out a large dutch oven add the meat with enough water plus 3 fingers to over. Turn heat to medium. While the meat is 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 ham hock pot. Drain and rinse the beans and add them to the ham hocks’ 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. Add the sausage to a tray and broil until they brown, turn up on the edges, drain, and add to the pot. 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. You are boiling the beans 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. During the last 15-17 minutes of cooking, take about 1/4 of the 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, taste, adjust if necessary.