We made it. One for the books. Wave goodbye to the last spin around the sun and get ready for the next.
To mark this occasion there is a delicious tradition of serving beans in the new year. Beans represent luck and hope and I being a lover of all culinary traditions decided to go with that traditional southern dish. Red beans and rice. It's a simple dish but with some thought and basic cooking techniques it can be so much more. Get out your Tobasco!!!
I've got a leftover hambone from the holidays, a big pot and some other stuff. Let's do this.
one hambone, ham hock..whatever
1 pound dried small red beans or kidney beans
3 cups ham stock (I'll show ya later)
Holy trinity. 2 parts onion, 1 part each celery, green bell pepper
One clove garlic, minced
A couple bay leaves
A big deep pot
The prep goes fast, the actual cooking a bit longer
Dried beans. Start the night before. Rinse under water. Remove any stones, broken or shriveled beans. Anything that looks like this.
Place in large pot and cover with cold water over 3 inches and let soak overnight. Drain.
NOW first thing, regarding that hambone. It really does add the essential guts to this dish. If you don't have one you could maybe use a hamhock, ask your butcher.
The first this to do is to take a knife to the bone. Remove as much fat and flesh as you can and separate them into two piles. Yes really.
If you don't have any ham stock stashed around well then lucky you, make some. We've made stock before.
Start with this-add water. Simmer for an hour, strain out. Done. RIGHT
Ok I'll be nice. Scraps of onions, celery and carrot. One hambone, bay leaf, whole black pepper corns. Enough water to cover by 2 inches. Also, unless you have 2 hambones, you'll want to remove and reserve that one. Continuing.
Chop up that holy trinity.
Grab your reserved ham fat, if you don't have enough, just use some veg oil.
If you DO have enough, heat up your pot to medium and start rendering (melting) that will be our sauté medium. We're getting triple use from that leftover bone ain't we. Turn up the heat to high.
Dump in the trinity. Sweat around, add salt, pepper. Keep tossing.
Add paprika, bay leaves.
Doing good right?
Lower heat and add beans.
And just nestle that bone in there, looks all comfy doesn't it
Add the stock. You need enough liquid to cook those beans. About 4 cups. If you're short then add a bit of water, you'll be ok.
Bring it to a boil and you'll notice a foamy-scummy thing gathering on the surface. It's called a raft and yeah it needs to go away. Just reduce your heat to simmer and grab a spoon or ladle. Gently drag across the surface to remove, dump it.
Cover the nicely simmering pot and walk away. Takes about 2 1/2 hours. Check on it, stir around, let's not burn the beans. During the last 30 minutes, tip the lid and let it reduce a bit. It should be creamy, not watery. Any ham bits liberated way back at the beginning, go ahead and add now.
Remove from heat and cook up some white rice. Whatever method you like. Chop up some green onions for garnish. This isn't spicy at all but it's terrific with some Tobasco.
There you go. Good and dense, filling and comforting and it wasn't even that hard. Save that bone, you'll get a couple more stock batches depending on the size.
I hope you all have a wonderful 2014!
Cooking poor, eating rich
Get your grub on