Saturday, March 27, 2010

Creole Style Red Beans and Rice

When I went to make this the other day, I couldn't find the recipe on my blog and I realized that I have never posted it! I just couldn't believe it and even went through my archives like 3 times. Crazy. I have had this recipe for a couple of years and have made it several times. Although I'm not a real southern woman, my mom made this with one of her best friends who IS and it got her approval. This is a very tasty soup with some pretty simple (and inexpensive) ingredients. I think this would also work well in the crock pot.

1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped ham
1 cup chopped yellow onions
3/4 cup chopped celery (about 2 ribs)
3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers (about 1 pepper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound smoked ham hocks
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water

4 cups cooked white rice
queso fresco, crumbled

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the oil in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham hocks, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water; I use about half stock and half water. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 1 1/2-2 hours. As the beans cook, skim off the foam that floats to the top. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.) Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.

Serve over rice and garnish with crumbled queso fresco.

SOURCE:Adapted from Emeril Lagasse, Food Network

NOTES:I like to make this over a couple of days. I take the first day to soak the beans then make the soup the next morning. If you chill the soup in the fridge until dinner time (or overnight again) then you can skim off the fat that has solidified on the top.

The first time I made this I did not use a ham hock because, to be honest, I was a little grossed out, but it was really good. The next time I made I used a ham hock and the flavor was amazing and I've used one ever since in making this dish. It does add a lot of fat though, that's why I now chill my pot of beans, so I can skim that fat right off the top.

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