In New Orleans, Monday is known for red beans, rice and laundry, though you can also do like me and make them on Saturday, while you catch up on Battlestar Galactica. Either way, they’re tasty, cheap and very good for you. Red beans are cooked down for a long time, so they have a chance to make a nice thick gravy, and so you have time to get all your washin’ done. And, when I say a long time, I really mean all day long. A crock pot* is a blessing to get these just right, and I suggest trying to find smaller light red kidneys if you can, and keep your eyes peeled for Camelia brand. That’s what everyone uses, since they’re packed locally and make very creamy beans. Serve red beans over your favorite rice with lots of hot sauce or pepper vinegar.
1 pound small, light red kidney beans
8-9 cups water
2 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
1 rib celery, minced
1 large jalapeno pepper, minced (to minimize spicy heat, seed and de-rib)
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke (optional)
3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
2 teaspoons smoked salt, plus more to taste
Wash and clean the beans and pick out any debris. Soak overnight in your fridge in lots of clean, cold water to cover the beans by about 4″.
Drain the beans. In a large pot over high heat, bring the water up to a boil. Add the beans and reduce heat to simmer, while you prep the vegetables.
Throw all of the other ingredients into the pot, except the salt, and continue to simmer over medium-low heat for 3-5 hours. If the water reduces too quickly, add in a 1-2 extra cups of boiling water, as necessary to prevent the beans from scorching (don’t add too much water, because it will prevent the beans from developing a thick gravy).
Once the beans are quite soft, use a spoon to smash a few of them against the inside of the pot to help thicken the gravy.
Add the salt, and season to taste with more, if necessary.
*When I make these in a crockpot, I set them up before bed and let them cook overnight and then part of the following afternoon.
Makes 6-8 servings, more when served with rice.
The time needed to cook this recipe is more than one hour