Wednesday March 9
We couldn't have Mardi Gras last night, so we did it on Ash Wednesday, on our principle of "All of the Feasts, None of the Fasts" (take that, Lent!).
Though our normal Red Beans and Rice has been, believe it or not, from the Frugal Gourmet's first cookbook, we adapted this one from the horse's mouth of New Orleans, or as Anthony Bourdain calls him, "that fuzzy little Emeril."
Red Beans and Rice
1/2 pound dried red beans, sorted and rinsed
1 tablespoon oil (Emeril used bacon grease, and I would too if I had any)
1 big yellow onion, chopped
1 or 2 stalks chopped celery
1 chopped green bell pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 big pinch cayenne
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 mild and 1 hot andouille sausage (or 2 smoked sausages)
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce to taste
1 cup cooked white rice
chopped scallions to garnish
Place the beans in your crockpot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak overnight. Drain, add water to cover by a half inch, and set to simmer on low in the crockpot as soon as you can - mine started at 11 AM, as we like our beans tender, and were using small red beans, which we hadn't tried yet.
In a large pan, heat the oil and brown sausages if fresh; if smoked, just split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add onions, celery and bell peppers to pan, with more oil as necessary. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, and sausage if smoked, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add everything (including whole fresh sausages) to the beans in the crockpot and simmer until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (If the beans become too dry, add a little water.)
Halfway through, remove sausages and split and cut as above. Toward the end, with the back of a heavy spoon mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot, then re-add sausage. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and season with hot sauce as necessary. Serve over rice and garnish with scallions.
We're still aiming for the melting red beans and rice as served at happy hour at the Columns Hotel in New Orleans. But this was close.
Red beans and ricely yours,