Friday, November 23, 2012

Red Beans and Rice II

As   you might expect , red beans and rice is from Louisiana.  It is "one of the  most famous dishes in Louisiana," says Hewlett. Humph. I think crawfish etouffe is more famous myself. Or seafood gumbo. However,  I was into cheap last week, before Thanksgiving, so we had red beans and rice. Bob  eyed  the ham hocks in the  beans with disfavor. "Why are we having this again?"  he inquired, meaning the ham hocks. I said we weren't having ham hocks alone again, we were having red beans and rice, which happened to contain ham hocks. The last time we had ham hocks, just a couple of weeks ago, he had reminisced about his Aunt  Hortense, (yes, that was her name, and she was a lovely old lady,)  and how she used to make ham hocks with beans. Turned out it was green beans. Oh.
The alternative for ham hocks is  bacon drippings. It occurs to me that some of  you may  not even know what  bacon drippings are. Bacon drippings are the fat that cooks off when  bacon is fried. It seems like bacon used to  be fattier, because we had a coffee can of  bacon drippings sitting next to our stove when I was growing up. My parents ate eggs and bacon every morning for breakfast, but that was only bacon from 4 slices. It seemed like those cans filled up pretty fast. When they were full, my mother put them into the freezer and put them on top of the bird feeder when the weather got cold. One year, we had starlings in the bird feeder. The starlings flung wads of fat at the house and messed up the aluminum siding. 
 The recipe says to soak the beans overnight. I soaked them for a couple of hours and they were fine. Oh yeah. Hewitt says the  beans are "not kidney beans as many suppose. " She doesn't say what they are, but they ain't kidney beans. Thanks, Jean, old girl. However, it is okay to                             use kidney beans.  Make sure you start dinner in time to let the beans boil for an hour and a half.
 Also, it says to use three cups of water, which would have left the ham hocks high and dry. I used twice as much water to submerge the ham hocks  so they would cook properly, and ended up draining a lot of the water off at the end.    I also threw in some crumbled hot red peppers that a neighbor gave me from his garden. The ingredients sort of stew together and make a  sauce for the beans. It's a very acceptable dinner on a cool night, accompanied by a salad.

Red Beans and Rice II

1  cup dried red  beans, soaked overnight
3 cups water
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
 3 tablespoons bacon drippings or one small ham hock
1 small onion, studded with two whole cloves (I chopped up the onion)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
 1 rib celery, chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1 bay leaf,  broken into pieces
1 cup rice, cooked according to package directions

1. Drain the beans and place in a heavy kettle with the water, salt, pepper, and bacon drippings or ham hock.  Bring to a boil and simmer one and one-half hours. Add the onion, garlic, celery, parsley and  bay leaf and cook one hour longer.
2. Serve on hot rice.
Makes f our servings.               


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