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    Entries in colours (with a u) (15)

    Tuesday
    May312011

    Mayhem, the Musical!

     

    Beans are not a fruit.

    It is officially the end of Mayhem. Taneasha is almost home, and I’ve almost remembered to get stuff for dinners each day this week. Srsly, I eat way too much cereal.

    I’ve got one more recipe from my time in the south, and it’s a true southern dish that starts with "the trinity". Now, of course with anything this quintessentially part of a cuisine, there will the various and assorted variations on ingredients, methods, and opinions on how to make it properly.

    I think with a dish like this, there will also always be variations based on the ingredients at hand. I mean, this is not some kind of haute cuisine concoction that requires specifically harvested delicacies that only grow in one part of the world. This is budget food at its finest. Most recipes I’ve seen also call for a small amount of precooked meat added at the end. That there is called using up the leftovers folks. Basically it’s a vegetable protein and carb that were advertised as healthy in afterschool public service announcements.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heKYNWFBkW8

    (nope, I don't know how to make html tags to insert a video, deal with it)

    The Schoolhouse Rock Gang were right! It’s damn tasty.

    And cheap. And freezable. And infinitely variable.

    (As usual, since I cook for one 90% of the year, the recipe I have written down is for as small a batch as possible. I‘ve found that  it’s much easier to double a recipe than to cut one in half. What you see us make is a quadruple batch!)

    Red Beans and Rice

    What you need

    • ½ lb small red kidney beans, washed
    • 6 oz pork sausage, diced (or, leftover ham, as you'll see)
    • 4 C water or stock
    • 1 med onion, chopped fine
    • 1 stalk celery, chopped fine
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped fine
    • 3 cloves garlic
    • 1 bay leaf
    • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
    • ½ tsp thyme, dried, or a bunch of fresh from the garden (what? me measure?)
    • ¼ tsp salt
    • black pepper, pinch
    • curly parsley, fresh

    What you gotta do

    Do not soak beans.  That’s right, I said “do not.” I realize that some people are having hairy conniption fits right now but I’ve never understood this whole bean soaking thing. I mean, you’re going to cook them anyway. Besides, soaking beans requires way too much forethought. They take hours to cook as it is, which is more planning than I put into most meals (see reference to cereal, above). To soak them would require that I know a whole day ahead of time that I’m going to want beans for dinner.

    Really the rest of the procedure can be summed up in the following sentence:  Put everything but the parsley in the pot and cook it all until the beans are done.

    But I have a bunch of pictures and I figure you should have something to read in between them.

    So, you start by chopping stuff. And checking through the beans to make sure everything in the package really was beans.

    You put the beans in the pot and add the liquid.

    We used 8 cups of chicken broth and 8 cups of water (quadruple batch remember) and... the Easter ham bone. Water alone will make a tasty batch of beans, but if you can get your hands on a ham bone… holy crap, these were some freaking awesome beans.

    Put the bone in the pot and chop more stuff.

    A nice glass of iced tea (or just tea as they apparently call it in the South where no one drinks "tea," or hot tea as they call tea) is handy to have during all the strenuous chopping.

    Add the herbs and keep chopping. There really are benefits to cooking for only one person.

    Add the spices and stir it all up.

    You see that lovely deep burgundy bean colour? You’d totally lose that if you soaked them first.  Now, instead of throwing away that colour, it’s going to end up in your food and give the resulting broth a rich beany colour.

    So really, all you have to do now is put it on the stove and walk away.

    If you check after 45 minutes or so you’ll see that the beans are already starting to give up their colour.

    After an hour and a half, maybe 2 hours, they’ve definitely changed colour.

    After a few hours any meat left on that bone will be either in the pot already or perfectly willing to come off it.

    And there was so much meat left on the ham bone that we decided to save the sausage for the next day and just use the ham. Look at us stretch the family food budget. ;)

    So while I was picking the meat off the bones

    which, for some reason, I find strangely soothing and will offer to do after every holiday dinner, Recipe Guy was mashing a few cups of beans and putting them back in the pot. Mashed beans are a fabulous way to thicken any gravy.

    We added the ham back in,

    chucked the bone, and added a little more salt. It’s really best to start this dish with as little salt as possible and correct at the end.

    A scoop of rice, a scoop of beans, a handful of parsley and a dash of hot sauce. Or, if you’re me, 8 dashes of hot sauce.

    And if you find a crawdad (aka land shrimp) hanging around on the property, make sure you cook them before you try to eat them.

    They fight back.

    Man, the amount of wild (aka free) food down there is just awesome for the family food budget. What’s your favourite budget meal?

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