In New Orleans, red beans and rice is convenience food, digestible culture, staff of life, maybe, but gourmet? No. And no other day of the week evokes this staple dish more than Monday. Monday, the day we spend digging out from the excess of the weekend. It is a day filled with laundry, mopping, toilet scrubbing - everything BUT cooking. A pot of beans on the stove - or in the crock pot - frees the Domestic Czar (read: mom) to more pressing business. Free? Well, let's say "available." But then, it could be worse:
In my mom's day, beans were a two day process. On day one, you'd rinse the beans picking out bits of mud or rock. Then they'd sit in a pot of water and soak to soften them. On the second day, the beans would cook slowly with mom tethered to the kitchen for repeated stirring and monitoring. I (and I'm sure legions of other modern moms) have devised a more streamlined approach that condenses the whole shebang into one day and requires a minimum of supervision.
"QUICK" RED BEANS ala crockpot
1 pound of dry red beans
1.5 pounds of smoked sausage
1 cup of trinity
several bay leaves
your favorite dry seasoning
Pour dry beans into your crock. Rinse the beans (twice) and pull out any weird bits. Now, slice the smoked sausage and add to the crock. (You can also use any other type of seasoning meat - or none at all.) Add the trinity, bay leaves and your favorite dry seasoning. Now, cover the whole mess with BOILING water (or stock if you really want to layer some flavors!). Adding the liquid already boiling confuses the beans and makes them think they've been cooking two hours already. Cool, huh? Speeds up the whole process. And you'll still have plenty of time to undo the weekend 'kiddie bomb.' Set the crock pot to 'high' and the beans will be ready in around 5 hours. Set it to 'low' and add another 3 hours to that. Just depends on how much of a hurry you're in (or how dirty your house is!)
Check your beans about half way through to give them a stir and add a little more liquid if needed.
About 25 minutes before you're ready to eat, put some rice to steam and toss a salad. Add some french bread and butter and a pitcher of mint sweet tea. Gourmet? Gourmaybe.... But that's a stretch when you're eating them on the patio under a umbrella.
Now, you know there will be leftover beans. Here's what I like to do the next day. Throw the leftovers in a pot. Add half the amount of bean volume in cream. Stir over low heat. Now, get out your wand immersion blender and whip up the whole pot into a smooth, cream of bean soup.
That's our little secret......k? Now, if you'll excuse me, my mop is calling.....
Questions? Comments? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And share my web address: www.thisaintjuliachild.com
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