"Honeeeyyyy......Honeeeyyyy!" So sayeth, or screameth, the Missus one evening while I was right in the middle of one of my posts. I already know that nothing particularly good can come out of this. But the Missus is not to be denied. So what prompted the "3 alarm" call? Well, the Missus is watching some show on the Food Network, I'm not quite sure which. I've kind of stopped watching Food Network since reality shows have taken over. The Missus is pointing to the screen, and tells me, "I want that." So just what is "that"? Seared Foie Gras? Wagyu beef Ishiyaki(don't laugh...I've been thinking about it)? No, it was Red Beans and Rice! Huh? Talk about a "Latkes moment".
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, even though I haven't been to New Orleans(yet) in the late 90's, I spent a year and a half working in places like Atlanta, Columbus(Georgia), Fort Smith(Arkansas), Lawton(Oklahoma), and such. And I really enjoyed the food, though I never developed a taste for Chitlins. Still, I've never tried to make Red Beans and Rice. And of course, knowing the Missus, there were certain
requests demands to be followed, "ummm, no bacon fat, and I don't want it to be too fatty." Talk about spoiling all of my fun. Luckily, this request came during the July 4th weekend, and I was already set on going to Iowa Meat Farms. I really like the Ham Hocks they sell, they have a decent amount of meat, and are really nice and smokey.
So what's with the Red Beans and Rice on Monday thing? From what I've read, Monday was traditionally wash day. So using the left over ham bone from Sunday supper, and slow cooking it with beans would be meal that could be left simmering, while you were busy doing the wash.
So this is what I came up with...it is probably different from any of other 1 million or so versions of Red Beans and Rice, but the Missus enjoyed it.
Red Beans and Rice
1 lb Red Beans, picked over, rinsed, and soaked overnight
1 good sized ham hock - or large meaty ham bone
2 (about 1/2lb) Andouille Sausage
1 onion chopped fine
1 bell pepper chopped fine
1/2 Cup celery chopped fine
3-4 garlic cloves minced
2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Cayenne
2 Bay leaves
2 Roma tomatoes seeded and chopped
3-4 Tb(or more) Hot Sauce - I used Crystal Hot Sauce
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chopped scallions for garnish
1 - Drain beans, and place into a pot with the Ham Hock, and bring to a boil. Skim off foam. Reduce to a simmer and cover.
2 - Prick the andouille sausage, and cook over medium heat in a skillet. Turn and brown, and allow for the fat to be released from the sausage(no bacon fat, eh? Thanks for the tip Mark Bittman!). When the sausage is browned remove from pan, and cut into chunks(it doesn't have to be fully cooked).
3 - Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper in the pan, and cook in the sausage fat. When the trinity starts getting translucent, add chunks of sausage back into the pan, along with the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes break down.
4 - When the ham hock is tender(this was about 2 hours) remove the ham hock, strip off all the meat, chop, and return to pot. Add all the spices and garlic, simmer for 15 minutes, taste, and adjust salt and pepper.
5 - Add the sausage and vegetable mixture, and cook until the texture of the beans are to your preference.
6 - Just before finishing, I removed bout 1/4 of the beans with a slotted spoon and mashed them up to thicken the mixture.
7 - Garnish with chopped scallions, and add hot sauce to taste.
A couple of things; remember to crush the dry herbs before adding them. The andouille sausage from Iowa Meat Farms tasted a bit different from what I was used to, more like linguica, but I don't think it affected the dish much.
What about the other ham hock?
Well, the Missus also wanted some collard greens, so that's what ended up happening. Lots of rinsing, trimming' and slicing.
There were a couple of problems with this.....the Missus decided to start in on the collard greens before I thought they were ready. And She finished all of them....I used 3 bunches of collard greens. I don't think I'll include a recipe, since it's really not much at all. But I will add a little equation for you:
Red Beans + Collard Greens = you get the picture, right?
Sammy, you better stay upwind from Momma tonight!