I recently purchased Cool Beans by Joe Yonan. Immediately, I was inspired to make this Louisiana favorite. It’s a great way to stretch a little bit of protein a long way without compromising the flavor. Traditionally served on Monday as a way to use leftovers, the beans were cooked low and slow all day while the laundry was being done. Typically, an all day process back in the day apparently…
- 1 pound (450 g) dry kidney beans. See note 1.
- 2 tablespoons of bacon grease or olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3–5 cloves of minced garlic
- 3–4 stalks celery, chopped
- 6 cups water
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
- 1 pound (450 g) andouille sausage, sliced. See note 2.
- 4 cups water low sodium chicken broth (1 boxed container)
- 2 cups cooked long grain white rice
- Green onions for garnish
- Proper hot sauce from Louisiana like Crystal or Tabasco
Note 1: these are hard to find dry in mass market grocery stores but have no fear! I’ve done this recipe with other kinds of beans. Use your best judgement. Normally beans labeled as pot beans, soup beans, mild, creamy, or smooth (navy, cannellini, great Northern or flageolet beans) will work well here. You will need to cut down the cooking time and nix any soaking in advance. Rancho Gordo is my favorite place to pick up heirloom beans. The traditional red kidney beans used in this dish come from Camellia.
Note 2: Andouille sausage is normally smoked which makes it dry and fully cooked. If you find an Andouille variation that is wet or only have access to a wet sausage make sure you sautée it with the veggies before adding the beans and broth.
- Place beans in a large bowl and cover with cold, salted water to soak overnight. If you’re using a milder white bean (see Note 1) skip this step as you may lose some of the texture during cooking.
- In a large Dutch oven or heavy bottom pan, heat bacon grease or olive oil over medium-high heat. Saute veggies for 5 minutes.
- Add cayenne pepper, thyme, bay leaves salt and black pepper. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 5 more minutes seconds.
- Add beans, along with all of the stock and water (roughly 6 cups). If you want to add some additional porky goodness — add a few of slices of thick-cut bacon, pancetta or ham hock.
- Bring to a boil and reduce to a bare simmer. Cover and cook until beans are completely tender, 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours (red beans will take longer than the mild, creamy beans so just keep an eye on the texture at 1 1/2 hours). Top with more liquid as necessary. The final product should be thin like corn chowder but not thick like cake batter. Beans should be tender, not bracing to the teeth.
- This is where things diverge. This is my technique and definitely not traditional. I scoop about 1–1 1/2 cups of the bean mixture, excluding the bay leaves or ham hock, and blend it with a bit of water to create a 25%/75% mixture of bean sauce to bean stew.
- Add additional seasonings, if necessary. Warm the final mixture up. Serve the bean stew in a shallow, wide bowl with a scoop of rice in the middle. This plating technique IS critical and where my crazy recipe rounds back to tradition. Top with green onions and hot sauce to taste.