Yes, I realize that I’ve posted a version of this recipe before, long ago when my photography was just atrocious (actually, that was one of my better ones, which is kind of sad), and my blog was still just a baby and had like five followers, one of which was my Grandma. In those 5+ years, I’ve posted a ton of different recipes for everything from pickled beets to strawberry cheesecake frozen yogurt, but one thing remains the same – comfort food is always welcomed around here. However, with the long journey I’ve been on while healing my digestion, one of the “final frontiers”, so to speak, was any large quantity of beans. I’ve found as time has gone on, though, that my body is happy with beans.
This is a cause for much rejoicing, people.
I love good beans. Refried beans, black beans, baked beans, borracho beans…mmm, beans. And red beans and rice? Now that’s a humble, comforting dish that can also make me swoon. Creamy beans with tons of pork-y flavor, as well as the undertones of onion, celery and bell pepper (all of which seem to melt away into the broth while the beans simmer), with as much heat as you desire (and yes, we love to add Tabasco!)? Who could ask for more? It’s cheap eats, and other than a stir every so often, pretty much can be left to do its own thing for most of the cooking time. While traditionally it was a Monday dish (using leftover ham from Sunday supper), I’m a fan of it as a Sunday meal, as I can let it simmer and focus my attention on other things. I baked French bread, made cookies, cleaned the patio, and even did some prep for lunches for the coming week, all while dinner was cooking away.
There’s plenty for leftovers or for a large crowd – in my opinion, this is one of those things you make a large pot of, even if there’s just a few mouths to feed. Not complaining. I’ll be happy to take this to lunch a few times in the next few days. The best part of all, though? The high-five my husband gave me upon tasting it. Red beans and rice is one of his favorites, too.
- 1 lb small red beans
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 c chopped yellow onion
- ½ c chopped celery
- ½ c chopped bell pepper (I used a mix of green and red)
- 3 T finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
- ¾ t chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 t kosher salt
- ¾ t ground cayenne pepper
- ¼ t ground black pepper
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 lb smoked pork jowl or ham hocks
- ½ lb chopped Andouille sausage (can substitute smoked sausage)
- 8-10 c water
- 4 c steamed long-grain white rice, for serving (from 1 cup raw)
- In a large, heavy pot, add beans and enough water to cover by at least an inch. Bring to a boil over high heat and allow to boil for one minute. Remove from heat and allow to soak for 1-2 hours. (You can also soak the beans overnight.) Drain the beans in a colander, rinse and sort through, and set aside.
- Heat oil in large, heavy pot over medium heat. Sauté onion, celery and bell pepper for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Add garlic, thyme leaves, salt, cayenne pepper, and black pepper and sauté another minute. Add bay leaves, pork jowl or ham hocks, chopped sausage, and water and stir, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add more water if it becomes too thick.
- Using the back of your spoon or a potato masher, mash some of the beans to help create a "gravy". Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 1½ hours, until the beans are creamy and soft. Again, add more water during this process if it becomes overly thick (if a spoon stands up in it - it's too thick). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Remove bay leaves and pork jowl/ham hock from beans and serve with steamed rice, Tabasco, and French bread, if desired.