Monday, March 1, 2010

Goosebump Beans- True Red Beans & Rice

I’m not quite sure why, but in the winter months my recipes slow down. They involve not necessarily more work, but more time. Maybe it’s the lack of produce that excites me and/or I want to eat more hearty filling food. Whatever the reason, in winter heavier ingredients made with full flavors make for full bellies.

This recipe definitely meets all of those winter criteria; in fact it epitomizes them. These beans can take up to three days to make. With drawn out steps to build flavor. There is pork, smoky pork, and then some more pork; culminating in delicious beans. I had known of this method for years, but the first time I had the chutzpah to take it on was to see my great friends out of New York. It was an occasion for many reasons. Recently I was missing my friends, so for nostalgia's sake, I made some of these beans.

If you’re going to measure the value of your time by the results of how you spend it, then there is no better endeavor in my opinion; short of spending time with your friends.

They’re called goosebump beans- if you don’t get ‘em when you taste ‘em, then you didn’t make ‘em right.

Goosebump Beans

1 lb. dry kidney beans

2 smoked pork shanks (and/or ham hock)

2 medium onions, medium dice

2 green peppers, medium dice

5 Stalks of celery, medium dice

5 Garlic cloves, sliced

2 tbsp tomato paste

3 bay leaves

1 pack Andouille sausage (Cajun) - approx. 12 oz.

¼ cup Plain white vinegar

**Note- Don’t add salt to this recipe until the very end! It brings many flavors together, and if you adjust too early in the process then it may become way too salty.

1. Spread your beans out on a sheet pan and pick through them to make sure there are not stones or debris. This seems like a superfluous step, but you’d be surprised how often I actually find little rocks, even from the finest sources. Once clean, place them in a large vessel covered with at least three inches of water, soak overnight.

2. Now we essentially make a smoky pork broth in which we’ll eventually cook the beans, it could be done the day before or the day of. Place the hocks/shanks in a stock pot along with all the veggies, the tomato paste and the bay leaves. Cover this whole mess by three inches of water and bring it to a simmer over medium low heat. Let this cook until the meat is literally falling off the bone- three to four hours.

3. Kill the heat, remove the pork chunks from the liquid. Pick the meat off the bones and return it to the liquid along with the soaked beans. If needed add more water so that this is covered by three inches, and bring to a low simmer again.

4. As this is coming up, render the andouille well over medium high heat. Brown it well, this lends significant flavor to the mix. Once it’s nice and brown add it to the beans along with the vinegar.

***It will take at least an hour and a half for the beans to cook, maybe more, as they do so, keep an eye on the water level, the beans will thicken it but it should be reasonably loose through the cooking process otherwise the heat won’t distribute well. You will also need to stir occasionally, when you do be sure to scrape the bottom of the pot well. If you do go to stir and the bottom feels caked on and burnt, DON’T scrape it up. Transfer the beans immediately to a new pot and continue cooking. You don’t want to incorporate that burnt flavor into the dish.

5. Once the beans are well cooked and breaking open they’re ready to go. Season it well with salt, give it a good stir and allow it to marry

Put a heaping spoonful of some white rice, garnish with some sliced scallions.

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