LOUISIANA RED BEANS (for six)
1 pound (about 2-1/4 cups) dried red kidney beans, picked over and rinsed
4 small ham hocks
2-1/2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 cups finely chopped green peppers
6 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coarse salt
- Either place the beans in a bowl with water to cover them by 2 inches and let them soak overnight, or “quick soak” them by bringing 5 quarts of water to a rapid boil in a large bean pot or saucepan, adding the beans, and cooking them for exactly 2 minutes after the water returns to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow the beans to soak for exactly one hour, then drain. Rinse under cold water and, if you are not going to proceed immediately, leave beans in cold water to cover until you are ready to use them.
- Place about 8 cups of water and the remaining ingredients (except the beans and salt – never salt beans until they’re fully cooked) in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Raise heat and boil until the meat falls off the bones, about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pan. Reserve the meat and discard the bones.
- Add the drained beans and, if necessary, replenish the water in the pot. (You may not need extra water. It depends on how much evaporation has taken place. Add a little at a time, allowing the beans to come back to a simmer between additions, to a maximum of about 4 cups. Use your own best judgment.) Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and cook until beans are tender and start breaking up, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom fairly often. (If beans start to scorch, do not stir. Immediately remove pan from heat and change pots without scraping up any scorched beans into the mixture.) Add the ham and cook and stir 10 minutes more. Add salt to taste. Discard the bay leaves and break up any large meat chunks. Cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
adapted from Paul Prud’homme’s Louisiana Kitchen