I grew up working in our family restaurants around New Orleans, which is known as "The Big Easy" or "The Crescent City" (due to the shape of the Mississippi River which runs through the heart of this southern city). Like most mom & pop places, we always served Red Beans & Rice on Monday. Always! I've changed the restaurant version a bit to reflect the fact that I use my Crockpot now. I hope you enjoy these yummy beans as much as I did growing up and as my own family now does. Serve over hot, fluffy white rice and a warm piece buttered and grilled French Bread with a side salad or bowl of coleslaw. Sweet iced tea rounds this awesome southern dish off quite nicely.
- 1 lb dried kidney beans, I prefer the pink ones to the dark red ones
- 1 ham hock (optional)
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, fresh ground
- 1 tablespoon chicken stock, powdered
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder, I use one Knorr mini cube (optional)
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
- 2 -3 bay leaves
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 -2 tablespoon salt, according to your taste
- 1 -2 teaspoon cajun seasoning, Tony Cacheres and Zatarains brand are both very good
- 1⁄4 cup butter
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce, Chipotle flavored is really nice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch or 2 tablespoons cornflour
- 1 lb smoked sausage
- These directions are long because I am covering the method quite thoroughly for new-comers. (-;.
- SOAK BEANS: On Sunday night (or the night before you want to eat these yummy beans), check beans to be sure there are no stones then place beans in a large bowl and fill almost to the top with water. It's better to have too much water than not enough. The beans will more than double in size overnight. In the morning, I drain beans in a colander and rinse well.
- A FEW PERSONAL TRICKS: One of the first things I do in the morning is fill my Crockpot with hot tap water just to bring it up to temperature much faster. This saves on cooking time and electricity. I also fill and boil my electric jug (or kettle) - this is the water I will use to cook my beans.
- PLACE IN CROCKPOT: Beans, ham hock, black pepper, chicken stock powder, chopped garlic, garlic salt, bay leaves, and optional Chipotle powder and liquid smoke. Note: Save adding salt until the end of cook time.
- COVER WITH HOT WATER: Cover beans with hot water from your jug or kettle just until fully covered. Then add an extra inch of water on top of that. This will give your beans a chance to swell even more during cooking. Cover Crockpot with lid.
- QUICKLY: Sauté onions and bell-pepper just until they begin to cook. Add these to the beans and stir.
- COOK: If you are going to be gone all day, cook beans on low setting for 6 to 8 hours. If you will be around to stir, etc., I recommend cooking them on high until they are almost fully cooked (about 4 or 5 hours). Then turn them down to low for the last bit of cooking.
- ONCE COOKED: When beans are fully cooked, remove bay leaves (if you can find them all) add butter and stir. To thicken beans, add 2 tablespoons corn flour mixed with just enough cold water to dissolve it. Add this to beans and stir for a minute. Beans should thicken a bit in fairly short order. Repeat until you get the desired consistency.
- ADD: Add salt by half-teaspoon until you reach the level of your liking. It may not take much for you. Also add a bit more fresh ground pepper.
- NOW: Put your rice on to cook. Slice smoked sausage and cook in a medium-hot cast iron skillet until nicely brown and starting to emit those nice juices. Take skillet off heat but leave sausages where they are. Don't cover.
- RINSE your rice with hot water. Once drained, place about half a cup of hot fluffy rice in a wide, shallow bowl.
- COVER rice with a generous amount of red beans. Top with a good amount of hot smoked sausage slices.
- SPRINKLE with hot sauce and/or more Tony's if you want it spicy like I do.
- SERVE with hot buttered, grilled slices of French bread, salad or coleslaw, and a big glass of iced tea.