Lia’s Red Beans and Rice

If you found Alex’s chocolate croissants too fussy, or if you lean to savory over sweet, I’ve got another recipe for you: Lia’s red beans and rice.  

Red beans and rice are a Cajun tradition. As Lia explains to Alex, it’s a dish traditionally cooked on Mondays. When money is tight, it’s a great way to stretch a little bit of meat a long way and use up whatever you have around–a ham bone, smoked turkey necks, a few pieces of sausage. It’s also something you can put on the stove and leave untended while doing the wash or cleaning the house. It’s a meal with humble beginnings, but one that’s delicious enough to show up on the fanciest restaurant menus.

Lia works for herself, so she can keep the Monday tradition. I had to improvise, using my Sunday to make my beans and clean the house. I may have listened to the Evita soundtrack while doing so, but there’s no proof.  For what it’s worth, I’d be suprisingly good for you.

Lia’s Red Beans

1 lb. of kidney beans, soaked in water 6-8 hours, then drained

2 T bacon fat or olive oil

1-2 pounds smoked meat (with bones if you have them)

2 medium onions, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 tsp. chile flakes or cayenne (or less if you don’t like it spicy)

salt and pepper

1 T red wine vinegar

cooked rice

In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute onions, celery, and pepper in the oil or bacon fat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and chile flakes, saute 2-3 minutes.

Add meat and beans. (I had some ham and splurged on a pound of andouille.) Cover with enough fresh water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer 3-4 hours.

When beans are soft, use the back of a spoon or potato masher to mush approximately 10% of the beans (this will thicken the sauce). Add vinegar. Season with salt, pepper, and (if desired) hot sauce. Continue to simmer, uncovered, until desired thickness (15-30 minutes).

Serve over rice. If you you haven’t been eating too many croissants, add a side of cornbread.


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