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With Valentine's Day looming, there is still plenty of time to plan Mardi Gras dinners and this is one of our favorite dishes! I found it several years ago in Gourmet Magazine, where credit was given to Rebecca Fulcher of Newnan, Georgia. The only changes I make is to cut the bay leaves down to 1 instead of the 4 called for. I do this because it seems to us that 4 bay leaves overpowers the other flavors. Soaking the beans overnight is essential and not included in prep time.
- 1 lb dried red kidney beans, picked over
- 1 lb smoked link sausage, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 pale-green inner celery ribs, chopped (with leaves)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (to taste)
- 6 cups water
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme, crumbled
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
- 3⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper (to taste)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
- 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- In a bowl soak beans in water to cover by 2 inches overnight.
- In a 6-quart heavy kettle combine all ingredients except 1/2 pound sausage.
- Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, covered, over moderate heat 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove lid and cook mixture at a bare simmer 1 hour more, adding more water if mixture is too thick.
- Remove 1 cup bean mixture and mash to a paste.
- Stir bean paste and remaining 1/2 pound sausage into bean mixture and simmer 5 minutes.
- Serve bean mixture with rice.