Tuesday, August 10, 2010

2010 Challenge: Red Beans and Ricely Yours

"Red beans and rice...but it ain't even Monday."

Restaurant red beans often get a very bad rap. This is mostly because each of our taste buds are geared to a hyper specific version of this local favorite. Growing up, Augie took care of my two sisters and I. She came to the house two or three times a week to do laundry, cook dinner, and teach me that touching an iron is a bad idea. No red beans could ever compare to hers. They were studded with cubes of ham that had evolved into tender morsels of flavor and seasoned with little more than dehydrated onion, salt, pepper, and dried parsley.

The red beans at Freret Street Po-Boys are the best restaurant beans I've found. While they did not utilize the cubes of ham that made Augie's seem like a stew, Freret Street's red beans well-seasoned and delicious. Reducing a red bean recipe to words does no good because you already have a red bean recipe or flavor profile in your head. But after years of messing around with red bean recipes, here is mine. It will likely change next week.

Note: While it is traditional to cook and eat red beans on a Monday (traditional washing day), you probably work on Monday. Which means, you don't have time to cook red beans on Monday. But I bet on Sunday you sit around in your boxers watching I Love Money reruns and doing laundry. Plus, it is a poorly kept secret that red beans get better on the second day. So do this, cook your beans on Sunday. Eat them on Monday. Tradition adapts in order to survive.

Red Beans, Green Beans, and Rice

For the Beans

Tasso, Richards, 1 package, diced
Smoked Pork Jowl, 3 slices, diced
Smoked Ham Hocks, 2
Onion, 1, diced
Celery, 6 stalks, diced
Garlic, 6 cloves, minced
Parsley, 3 tablespoons, chopped (plus another 2-3 tablespoons for garnish)
Red Beans, Camelia, soaked overnight or one hour in hot water
Hot Sauce
Bay Leaf

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, slowly bring the tasso and and pork jowl up to temperature. This will make your house smell like a pocine sauna. A good thing, for sure. Once some of the fat has rendered out of the pork jowl and a nice crust has developed on the tasso, add in your seasonings-the onion, celery, garlic, and parsley. Notice, I dont use green peppers.; I don't think they add much to the discussion.

Let this cook for about 10 minutes. Then toss in those two smoked ham hocks. Now add your presoaked beans. Add in salt, pepper, cayenne, and hot sauce to taste. Two bay leaves as well; no more, no less. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and allow to simmer until done. For me this is 8-10 half hour episodes of network TV.

Now, here is the interesting thing. You probably read that and said "Pork Jowl"? Consider it bacon's manlier cousin. The jowl melts into your liquid, thickening the sauce so that you dont have to go in there and mush half the beans. Plus, it adds this deep layer of essence of pork. Which coincidentally, would make for one hell of a perfume.

Green Beans

Green Beans, 2 fistfuls, trimmed
Rice Wine Vinegar, teaspoon
Sesame Oil, 2 tablespoons
Garlic, 1 clove, minced
Red Pepper Flakes

Blanch the beans in heavily salted water until al dente. Meanwhile combine the salt, pepper, garlic, andd red pepper flake with the rice wine vinegar in a bowl. Using the tines of a fork, mix and then stream in the sesame oil. Remove beans from water and toss in dressing.


BBD said...

Looks like a great recipe. The Red Beans at "The Store" are also amazing. Best I've had.

Rene said...

Those are very good red beans, but haven't eaten them this year. Hence why I couldn't put them in the 2010 Challenge. Following rules is what I do.

jeffrey said...

Reducing a red bean recipe to words does no good because you already have a red bean recipe or flavor profile in your head.

Or to put it another way, WHAT, NO PICKLE MEAT?

Slicey said...

Try the free redbeans at 45 Tchop. They have them free on Thursday nights and they are brought in by the landlords wife. She varies week to week but pigtails, pickle meat, turkey neck are all in the mix from time to time. HEy today's Thursday! Yum.