This traditional New Orleans dish is the perfect accompaniment to a spicy Gumbo, and is even better the next day, after the flavors have had time to meld. Feel free to play around with the seasonings to achieve the flavor you like.
1 pound red kidney beans, dry
1 large onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
5 ribs celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
½ pound diced smoked ham
½ pound chorizo or hot Creole sausage
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
2 bay leaves
Tabasco sauce, to taste
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1-2 teaspoons Creole seasoning blend, to taste
Salt to taste
3 cups hot steamed white rice
Soak the beans overnight. When ready to cook, drain the beans and replace with fresh water. Place over high heat until the pot comes to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer over medium heat until the beans are tender but still solid, about 45 minutes to an hour, then drain.
[Chef’s Note: Soaking the beans overnight helps them to cook faster, and replacing the water before boiling helps to rinse away some of the indigestible enzymes which sometimes produce, um, shall we say, a little excess air. Be sure to keep the beans covered with plenty of water while boiling.]
While the beans are cooking, sauté the onions, celery, and bell pepper (the holy trinity of Louisiana cooking) until softened. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, then add the diced ham, hot sausage, thyme, bay leaves, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, Creole seasoning, and just enough water to cover.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 to 3 hours, until the flavors have blended and the beans have softened. Stir from time to time to be sure that the beans do not stick to the bottom. They should break down and start to get creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Serve hot over freshly steamed long grain white rice.
Recipe by Mark Tafoya