Cajun Red Beans and Rice

12  Servings

 

     According to numerous Cajun sources, Red Beans and Rice is the official dish served on Monday.  On Monday most New Orleans restaurants feature it as their special; it is also the official comfort food to many who grew up in New Orleans.  I think this dish is good any day, especially when it’s cold outside.

     This version, adapted to the slow cooker, is very little work and has lots of wonderful flavor.  You can adjust the fire by adding more or less Tabasco and by using milder sausage.  Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you—it goes together very fast.

 

1        pound dried red beans

10      cups water, (or more if needed)

         

6        meaty ham hocks, (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)

3        bay leaves

1        teaspoon white pepper

1        teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1        teaspoon dried whole oregano

1        teaspoon dried summer savory

1        teaspoon cayenne, (more if you like it spicier; less if you are a wimp)

1/2    teaspoon black pepper

1        tablespoon Tabasco pepper sauce

         

1        pound andouille sausage, cut into 3/4" slices (substitute Chaurice or any spicy smoked sausage)

2 1/2 cups chopped celery

2        cups finely chopped onions

2        cups finely chopped green bell peppers

4        cloves garlic, finely chopped

         

          salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

         

6        cups cooked white rice

3        chopped green onions

3        tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped

 

     Sort through the beans and discard any broken or ugly ones and any dirt.  Rinse well and place in the slow cooker with the water.  Turn to high and cook 4-6 hours.  (I usually do this step overnight).

     After the beans are almost tender, add the ham hocks, bay leaves, white pepper, thyme, oregano, summer savory, cayenne, black pepper, and Tabasco.  Continue cooking on high, adding more water if necessary for at least two hours.

     Meanwhile, brown the sausage chunks in a large skillet; add them to the bean mixture with the celery, onions, green peppers, and garlic. 

     Remove 1 cup of the beans and mash well; stir them into the mixture.

     After the mixture has cooked on high for 2-4 hours, remove the ham hocks.  Take any meat off the hocks and return to the mixture.  Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste; you also may have to add a little water.  Turn to low and cook until it's time to eat. 

     To serve, place a mound of rice in a bowl, top with beans, and sprinkle with the green onions and parsley.