John Besh’s Red Beans and Rice

I swear, this recipe is so mouthwatering, you’ll be amazed at how simple it is.  Not to mention it’s great to make in bulk and then freeze.  The only drawback is the 2 hours it takes to cook it low and slow, but on the upside, it’s a perfect rainy Sunday project.

John Besh’s Red Beans and Rice (slightly adapted)
Serves 8
Total Time: 3 hours

• 2 yellow onions, diced
• 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
• 1 stalk celery, diced
• 2 tablespoons bacon fat (or any other stored fat you have- chicken, butter)
• 1 lb dried red kidney beans
• 2 smoked ham hocks (I bought 1.5 lbs for $2.84, sub 4 slices of bacon if desired)
• 3 bay leaves
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 3 green onions, chopped (important ingredient, don’t skip it!)
• salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Tabasco sauce, if desired (or mix in 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar at the end for the vinegar punch)
• brown rice cooked in chicken broth

Using the bacon fat, saute onions, peppers and celery in a dutch oven or other large heavy pot over medium heat until translucent.  Add the kidney beans, ham hocks, bay leaves, cayenne and water to cover the ingredients by 2 inches.

Bring to a boil, cover pot and reduce the heat.  Simmer 2 hours to 2.5 hours and periodically stir the beans so they don’t burn.  Add water if level dips below 1 inch of water (I didn’t need to).  The beans won’t soak up all the liquid but I like having some ham hock pot likker to soak into my rice.

Remove meat from the ham hocks, chop it up and add it back to the beans (there’s only a small amount of meat on the hocks).  Stir in the green onions and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Just these 3 measly green onions give vibrancy and crunch to this creamy, hearty dish- I was surprised at just how much they added to the complexity of the dish.  Serve over brown rice that’s been cooked in stock.

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