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Oh, honey, red beans and rice!

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!)

garlic:  .30

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.

rice:  .75

TOTAL:  $6.95    A budget deal!  Somebody call the Treasury Secretary.  I’m giving away an economic recovery recipe.

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