Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bean there, done that...

I so admire the people, culture and cuisine of that great city of New Orleans. Especially for being the adopted home of one of my culinary heroes, Emeril Lagasse.  Recently, one of their famous, traditional dishes became my Monday supper.  It was a heavier wash day than normal for us here in Pixie-land, and I decided that I would celebrate what domestic goddesses did back in the day, on wash-day Mondays ~ Red Beans and rice!  The story is, that during the (at the time) long day of washing, hanging and ironing clothing, these wonderful women would simmer the red beans with various additions low and slow, all day long. This freed them up to do the laundry, while ensuring a tasty, nutritious, and inexpensive supper.

I turned once again to Emeril, and his great recipe for the dish, go here if you'd like it. A bit of forethought is required, so I began by soaking the red beans in water on Sunday night (especially after taking a look at how much washing there was to do!).

This is how they looked by Monday, mid-morning. Plumping up nicely...

Then, we begin the dish - by of course getting all our ingredients ready.  Once again, this is the hardest part of the whole meal! Simply assemble, saute' a few times, and cook slowly for hours...this would be great in the slow cooker all day as well.

Clockwise from bottom left we have; the soaked and drained beans, on the plate we have cayenne pepper, garlic, bay leaf, salt and thyme (not shown; freshly grated black pepper), vegetable oil, chopped onion, bell pepper and celery, and last but not least, diced sausage and ham.

Now we cook! Saute' the bell pepper, onion and celery in the vegetable oil with the cayenne, salt and pepper, and thyme for about 5 minutes, just until softened slightly.

Then, add your bay leaf, ham and sausage, and saute' that for five minutes as well.

Now, add the soaked and drained beans,  the garlic, enough water to cover it all, put a lid on it, and simmer on low for two hours. GO DO SOME LAUNDRY! Hahahaha... Here's mine beginning the simmer..

After two hours (add more water as necessary) this is what it will look like...

Then, take a wooden spoon, or a potato masher (much quicker) and mash half the beans. This step will ensure a creamy, thickened final dish.  Here's mine during the mashing...

Put the lid back on, and simmer on low for another hour and a half. You DID have some things to iron, remember? :) Oh, and trot out to your garden for some fresh, flat-leaved Italian parsley and/or raid your refrigerator for that, and some green onions for garnishing the dish....

The results? Well, considering that this is a dish of very humble origins, is made with incredibly cheap, nutritious products, I was stunned! Stunned at the depth of flavor, the creamy texture, and the steamed Basmati rice underneath was the perfect vehicle to support this lovely dish. See for yourself..

Amazing, really. Thank you Emeril for this recipe, thank you to the City of New Orleans, and the surrounding areas for your courage in the face of adversity after Hurricane Katrina, for your traditions, for your warm, sugar-dusted beignets (oops, that's another post), your delicious chicory-enhanced coffee, your wonderful seafood. I'm going on and on again.....what did Kitchen Angel think?

Should I tell her that Mardi-Gras is already over for this year? Nah, she'll find out later.....

Eat well, my friends, and stay tuned for a garden update.......and.....SCONES! That's right, I'm going to the summer....(a clear sign that I have, in fact, gone right round the bend, actually).

Love and kindness to all,


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