Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Red beans and Rice

There is nothing quite as satisfying on a cool fall evening. I have been tweaking this recipe for some time and this is my favorite version yet. I utilize ingredients that I store in my winter pantry but feel free to use fresh where you can. Red beans and rice make a complete protein, so the meat is not necessary. I We add it for the flavor and I like to keep scraps of ham around for all sorts of things. It is an economical dish and easy to make.
You can measure out the morning ingredients and put them in the refrigerator in a covered container if you need to have something quick and easy to prepare before you leave the house in the morning. Soaking the beans overnight allows them to fully cook in a short amount of time, but I like to let this recipe simmer all day. The flavor is exceptional. This recipe has just the slightest bite to it from the jalapeno but isn't too spicy for our family. If your family isn't fond of spice, you can eliminate the jalapeno.

The night before...
1lb of dried small red beans
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
1/2 cup bacon fat from uncured bacon

In the morning...
1 chunk smoked ham(about a one cup piece) without nitrites or fresh uncured ham and a tsp of liquid smoke
1 cup dried onion(or 2 cups fresh, chopped)
2 t garlic powder(1 T fresh, chopped)
2 T dried oregano
2 T evaporated cane juice
2 T dried basil
1 T dried thyme
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt to taste

In a large crockpot, pour your dried beans, which have been rinsed and sorted. Add the jalapeno and lard and cover with water. Soak the beans overnight.

In the morning, add the rest of the ingredients except salt.  Cook on low all day, watching the liquid level to make sure beans stay covered until tender but then allow it to cook off toward dinner time. When beans are tender, use a potato masher to mash about half the beans. This will thicken up the liquid quite a bit. You can use a little cornmeal sprinkled in to thicken it up further if needed as you want a thick sauce when you serve it.

Serve over a bowl of hot, cooked brown rice.

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