A Louisiana classic! Let’s make some red beans!
- 1 lb red beans, soaked overnight in cold water
- 3 tablespoons of bacon grease
- 2 small or 1 large yellow or white onion
- 5 stalks celery
- 1 1/2 lbs. smoked sausage
- 1 ham bone with meat or 1 lb. cubed smoked ham
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon chicken base (stock starter)
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 5 scallions
- Seasonings: Tony’s, Cayenne Pepper, Black Pepper, Salt, Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Hot Sauce
Soak your beans overnight in cold water (or follow the package instructions for the “quick soak”), then rinse and drain. Set aside.
Add about 3 tablespoons of bacon fat to a large heavy-bottomed pot on medium heat. Here in the south, we’re raised to save bacon grease and store it a mason jar in the refrigerator. I don’t know a self respecting southern cook who doesn’t have a jar of bacon grease looming in the back of the fridge. If you’re not one of us, just cook a little bacon and use the grease left in the pan. Yes, it’s an essential step in this process.
Next, finely dice your onion, celery and green onion and add that to the pot to cook.
Allow the vegetables to cook and soften and add the following seasonings, to your taste–but be liberal: Salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, tony’s, and cayenne.
Now finely chop 4 cloves of garlic and add that to the party. The veggies should be getting soft and translucent by this point.
Now, it’s time to add the meat. I used about a pound of Cajun andouille sausage, and a few links of regular smoked sausage. Chop into bite size pieces and add it to the pot.
I made a ham for Easter Sunday and reserved the ham bone specifically with these red beans in mind. If you don’t have a ham bone lying in wait in your freezer, then you can simply grab a package of diced smoked ham from the grocery store. I just added the big, frozen bone directly to the pot.
Now toss in your beans and cover it all with water, by about an inch.
At this point, I like to add a big, heaping tablespoon of chicken base, which is the same as stock starter or bouillon. It adds more flavor along with about a dozen shakes of your favorite hot sauce and a few bay leaves.
Now bring the uncovered pot to slow, rolling boil and cook for about an hour. You’re looking for some of that liquid to cook out.
Give it a taste and reseason as needed. If it’s too liquidy (you know how you like it), remove a bit of the liquid from the pot with a measuring cup. Are the beans super soft? If yes, then you can proceed to the next step. If no, let the pot cook another half hour or so, continuing to stir often so nothing sticks to the bottom.
At this point, it’s safe to remove the ham bone (the meat should’ve all fallen off by now) and the bay leaves.
Once the beans are super tender, I take the back of a large spoon and SMUSH (technical term) about half the beans against the side of the pot. That’s how they get all delicious and creamy. You know how SMUSHY your like yours, so SMUSH to your own liking.
Then I add about 3 tablespoons of chopped parsley and let it cook over super low heat about another 20 minutes.
Serve with steamed white rice and enjoy!
*Note: Red beans freeze really well for up to six months. I spoon them into quart size freezer bags once cooled and lay flat to freeze for easy storage.