My family didn’t have a lot of money when I was growing up. In spite of that, I never felt like I was deprived of anything. One of the ways that my mother stretched her food dollars was to feed us inexpensive protein such as beans. She once told me that a doctor told her mother that if she wanted her children to grow up strong and healthy, she should feed them beans at least twice a week. My grandmother decided that if twice a week was good, four of five times a week would be better. It seemed that this had been good advice because my grandmother raised all eight of her children from infancy to
adultry adulthood. She did this without the benefit of modern antibiotics or medicine. The first dose of penicillin was administered in the United states in 1942 when my grandmother’s oldest child was 26 and her youngest was 13.
Since it had worked for my grandmother, my mother decided that beans would be a major part of our diet as well. Most of the time, my mother cooked beans with a piece of ham skin or a ham bone in it for flavor. Sometimes, she would throw in some salt pork instead. I loved beans when I was growing up. I would even have beans on toast for breakfast some mornings. My husband is a city boy, and he came from a family with a larger bank account than mine. As a result, he is not as fond of beans as I am. This has resulted in a few meal time difficulties over the years, but gradually, he is seeing things my way.
Unlike my mother, I like to enliven my beans with a bit more flavor than just a ham hock or a piece of fat back. At a minimum, I add garlic and onions to my beans, but often, I add much more. These additions are a good thing for my husband because he likes more flavorful food, so I can always whip up a pot of red beans and serve them over some rice without having to worry about him complaining too loudly.
While we are on the subject of complaining loudly, if you are one of the people who experience a significant increase in gas after ingesting beans, we have discovered through trial and error that if you soak the beans and then drain and rinse them well, you will experience significantly less gas than if you just cook them up. If you’re like me and never remember to soak the beans overnight, put them in a pot and cover them with water. Bring them to a full, rolling boil on the stove, cover the pan, and turn off the heat. Allow the beans to sit for one hour then drain and rinse. If you want more specific instructions on this technique, check out the post on De-gassing Beans. At this point, you can proceed with the recipe.
This recipe can be made without the meat and is just as tasty. I prefer it that way, but hubby is a complete carnivore.
Here’s your recipe. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
- 1 pound dry red beans (I prefer small red beans, but some people prefer kidney beans)
- 6 cups water or broth, (or a combination of the two)
- 1 large onion, chopped (2 cups)
- 1 bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
- 4 stalks celery, chopped (1 cup)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried sage (optional)
- 1 pound of cooked smoked or andouille sausage, sliced or chopped into bite sized pieces.
- Look through dried beans, carefully checking for and removing any rocks, twigs, and moldy or broken beans.
- Rinse beans with cold water.
- Place beans in a large pot and cover the beans with water.
- Place a lid on the pot, and allow the beans to soak overnight, or for a minimum of 6 hours,in a cool place
- Drain and rinse the beans.
- Place Beans into a large pot and cover with 6 cups water.
- Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic to the pot with the beans and stir to incorporate them..
- Add bay leaves, cayenne, thyme, parsley, Cajun seasoning, pepper, and sage (if you choose to use sage).
- Stir in the seasonings.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer beans for 1½ to 2 hours.
- Add cooked and sliced or diced sausage to the pot and simmer for 30 to 60 minutes longer or until beans are fully cooked.
- During the last few minutes of cooking time, prepare rice according to package directions.
- Serve over cooked rice with a jar of hot sauce on the side.