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I Made It!

January 28, 2012

If you follow me on Twitter you know I spent a week down in New Orleans. And after visiting the old haunts, what I wants is

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice. Yet again, I go to Cooks Illustrated for the basics.

And it’s really pretty easy, especially compared with more traditional recipes. The night before cooking, dissolve three tablespoons of salt in four quarts of water and soak a pound of small red beans at room temperature. If you can find Camellia’s brand of red kidney beans, great, but otherwise use smaller chili beans. The brining really helps cut down on “blown-out” beans when cooking. Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly before cooking.

Anyway, get a large soup pot or dutch oven. If you can get ahold of a quarter-pound of tasso that’s great; chop it finely and cook it over medium heat in a scant tablespoon of vegetable oil. Otherwise just use bacon and omit the oil, since the bacon will render plenty of fat on its own. After lightly browning the meat, add a medium onion, a small green bell pepper, and a celery rib, all finely chopped. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften and the onion turns translucent.

Next, throw in three medium cloves of garlic, minced or pressed, a teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, two bay leaves, and a quarter teaspoon each of cayenne and ground black pepper. If you used bacon instead of tasso, also add a teaspoon of sweet paprika. Cook and stir for about thirty seconds, until the spices become fragrant. Then add the beans, four cups of low-sodium chicken broth, and five cups of water. Bring the lot to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high. You have to keep the beans simmering vigorously for 45-60 minutes, until the liquid starts to thicken, so don’t turn it down as much as you normally might for a long simmer.

As the liquid starts to thicken, slice a half pound of pork andouille lengthwise and then cut crosswise into quarter-inch pieces. Stir this into the beans along with a teaspoon of red wine vinegar. Cook for an additional thirty minutes, then season to taste with salt, black pepper, and more red wine vinegar.

During that last thirty minutes you can cook the rice; this method is a little more complicated than the usual, but it pays off. Put two cups of long-grain rice into a fine mesh strainer and rinse until the water runs clear, getting rid of most of the starch that can make rice all sticky and gummy. Heat a tablespoon of butter or vegetable oil over medium heat, then add the rice and stir a few minutes until the grains all turn chalky-white and opaque. Add three cups of water and a teaspoon of salt; bring to a boil over high heat while stirring occasionally. Cover and reduce the heat to low for about twenty minutes. Then remove from the heat and put a kitchen towel, folded in half, below the cover and let sit for another ten minutes.

Serve the beans over the rice, sprinkling with scallions if you want, and adding hot sauce to taste. Crystal, naturally.

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  1. I Made It! « DrMathochist

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