New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice

This recipe from The New Orleans Cookbook by Rima and Richard Collin, is as close to “the real deal” as you can get. According to Ms. Collin, “red beans were traditionally cooked while the Monday wash was drying on the line, and since New Orleans humidity made that an all day job, the beans cooked for many hours.” Today, people are as passionate about their red beans as ever and red beans and rice can still be found on most menus each Monday in the Quarter.

INGREDIENTS:

2 lbs. dried red (kidney) beans, soaked overnight in cold water to cover
2 cups onions, chopped
1/2 cup green pepper, chopped
1 1/3 tablespoons garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely minced
1 lb. baked ham, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb. pickled pork, cut into large chunks
1 large ham bone
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper pods
2 whole bay leaves, broken into quarters
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
2 quarts cold water, approximately
Boiled Rice
Green onion tops, chopped

METHOD:

Drain the soaked beans in a colander and put them, along with all the other ingredients, into a heavy 8-10 quart pot or kettle, adding just enough of the cold water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat and simmer on low heat for 2 1/2 – 3 hours, or until the beans are tender and a thick natural gravy has formed.

Add about 1 cups of water toward the end of cooking if the mixture appears too dry. During cooking, stir frequently and scrape down the sides and across the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon or spatula to prevent scorching. (If you use a heavy pot and very low heat – just high enough to keep the barest simmer going –you should have no problem with beans sticking to the pot during cooking.) Stir the entire mixture thoroughly just once about every half hour.

When the beans are cooked, turn off the heat. To serve, ladle about 1 1/2 cups of beans, with meat and gravy, or a portion (2/3 cup) of boiled rice. Garnish with hand full of green onion tops.

SOURCE: The New Orleans Cookbook, by Rima and Richard Collin