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My Red Beans Recipe

Back in the old days red beans and rice were cooked on Mondays because that was washing day. The servants or housewife would put beans simmering on the stove all day long for the evening meal while the laundry was getting done. Eating red beans and rice in New Orleans on Monday is an old tradition that will still adhere to. Many restaurants will typically have it only on Mondays.

So this Sunday I decided it was a good week to make some good red beans. I know the tradition is red beans and rice but I try to stay away from the rice because the meal tends to be too starchy and well, too much starch tends to make you fat and sluggish.

Well-known food writer Marcelle Bienvenu, a cousin, has a great recipe for it. The recipe on the bean bag I think is a bit wimpy but her recipe is full-flavored and bold.  I decided to make a batch using her recipe and, heck, just threw in some other stuff I don’t normally use. The results? Yummmmmyyyy. The best I ever made. So here goes.

1 lb of red beans
2  chopped onions
1 bell pepper chopped
3-4 celery stalks chopped
3 garlic cloves
3 bay leaves
chicken or beef stock flavoring (try to avoid MSG, read the ingredients on label)
1 lb sausage and/or ham (don’t use boudin, italian sausage is best)
1 tbsp.butter
2 pinches thyme
salt and pepper

what I added:
1 tbsp. unrefined or extra virgin coconut oil (very tasty and good for you)
1 tbsp. bacon fat
1 tbsp. fish sauce (or more. This does not make it tastes fishy)
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp. turmeric
2 pinches rosemary
handfull of garlic cloves smashed

To keep down the gas effect I do this: soak the beans overnight. In the morning pour off the water. Add the beans to the pot and add twice as much water. Put on simmer for about and hour or so or more till soft. Pour beans in colander to pour off water. Chop and sautee onions, celery and bell pepper in butter, bacon fat and coconut oil. Return beans to pot, add water to about 1/2 inch above beans. Let this simmer on lowest flame for a couple hours. Add more water if necessary.

The trick to really good read beans is to add most of the herbs and flavoring toward the end. Add bay leaves, stock, meat, fish sauce, vinegar, turmeric, rosemary, thyme. Maybe a shot of hot sauce if sausage is not too hot. For the last half hour or so add the smashed garlic. Take one ladlefull of beans and put in blender and pour back in pot. This gives the beans a creamy consistency. Enjoy!

Note about fish sauce: Although this is not what I call a traditional New Orleans ingredient did you know that Worchestershire Sauce is actually a fish sauce? But I find it too heavy and the taste too distinctive. Fish sauce is used in most Asian countries in almost everything. It’s fermented and salty and smells like, well, just don’t smell it. But it is delicious. I use it in salads, soups and all kinds of cooking. It gives food that tang, that middle note and finishing note. It makes flavors stand out.

I include it all the time and never had anyone ever say, “This tastes fishy.” It’s a staple in my kitchen and every supermarket carries it. I wouldn’t be without it and it is my secret ingredient.

Posted in New Orleans Culture, New Orleans Food.

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