Let’s kick it! One of my favorite dinner parties ever was a big group of friends huddled around our table all sharing a giant pot of red beans and rice. I think it’s the subtle red pepper flavor that warms me up and makes me want to come back for more.
Soak up your red beans the night before.
FIll up a big pot with 6 c. water and the red beans. Add 1 or 2 c. chopped onion, 3 cloves garlic, minced, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 t. to 3/4 t. red peppers. Simmer your beans for a couple hours, checking to see if you need water. Here’s the tricky part: you want the beans to cook down with a lovely thick “bean gravy.” You’re not aiming for soup. Ideally you want to be able to serve your red beans on rice without needing to drain off water. I cook my beans until they are tender and then, if I so choose, I add meat. We like to use a ButterBall turkey sausage, sliced. For you onion phobes out there, rest assured that 3 hours of cooking tenderizes onions into a fabulously flavorful but unidentifiable character. You’ll never find them.
I don’t cook beans with salt or salty meat because I’ve learned that salt makes beans tough. I just add my salt at the end.
Honestly, red beans have a great flavor. I don’t think they need ham, sausage, or pork hocks. Pork is expensive, so I just try to leave it on the shelf for Congress.
Here’s the cost:
1 bag red beans: $1.40
1 or 2 onions: $1.00 (at the most!)
bay leaves: oh for Pete’s sake, I have no idea. I have a giant container I keep on the top shelf.
ground red pepper: FREE if you save two packets from the next time you order out pizza
a sausage, if you must: $3.50.
TOTAL: $6.95 A budget deal! Somebody call the Treasury Secretary. I’m giving away an economic recovery recipe.