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
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.
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).