Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Louisiana Red Beans with Smoked Sausage

Once upon a time (last February), I was wandering around Manhattan with a belly full of meatballs. Heading into one of my favorite New York City haunts, Chelsea Market, I discovered that the folks at the History Channel had transformed one of the internal spaces (often used for sample sales) into the Louisiana bayou in honor of the premiere of Swamp People that evening. I had never seen the show, but was intrigued by the live baby and full grown alligators they had on display! Also, some of the stars of the show were there to meet fans, take pictures, and sign autographs. I had never seen the show, but I hopped in line anyway :) For the record, I have checked out the show since and thought it was a lot of fun.

The point of the story... they had free samples of several classic Creole/Cajun dishes along with recipe cards to make them at home. I loved all of the foods that I sampled (even though I was stuffed from my trip to the Meatball Shop), and took one of each of the recipe cards with plans to try them in the future. FINALLY, the day came and I decided to my hand at making Louisiana Red Beans with Smoked Sausage. I wanted to use Andouille sausage, which is most typical for smoked sausage from this region, but I was unable to obtain it and so I settled on some very delicious garlicky Linguica instead. It was a pretty solid substitution, trust me.

I was worried as I started to make it and realized how much food it was. The recipe said it would serve 6 but I knew this recipe would serve a lot more than 6 normal people, especially if it is served with rice. It was really easy to make, however, and the flavors were outstanding. Cooking the sausage with the beans really helped to impart a lot of flavor into the sauce. A good overnight soaking of the beans helped them cook a lot faster as well. Mashing some of the beans and mixing them back in helped to thicken what is essentially a bean and sausage stew. We absolutely loved this dish, and I look forward to making it again preferably for a crowd, or even scaling down and making half for a smaller audience.

Louisiana Red Beans with Smoked Sausage
Serves about 8
(Adapted from After the Hunt: Louisiana's Authoritative Collection of Wild Game and Game Fish Cookery)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups sliced scallions, divided
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
1/4 cup diced garlic
1 lb dried kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water
2 lbs smoked sausage, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Hot sauce

In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup of the scallions, onions, celery, bell peppers, and garlic and saute for about 5 to 10 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add the beans and sausage, blend well with the vegetables and cook 2 to 3 minutes.

Add enough cold water to cover the beans by approximately 2 inches (I used 2 quarts, but may use less next time). Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to medium-low (it should still be bubbling, but more gently) and simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, for about 1 hour or until the beans are tender.

Spoon about one-third of the beans (do the best you can) into a bowl and mash them. This is easier than trying to mash them in the pot with all the sausage slices getting in the way. Return the mashed beans to the pot. This should help thicken the mixture and make it creamier. If it's still too liquidy, raise the heat and continue to cook until the liquid reduces and thickens to your liking.

Add the remaining scallions along with the parsley. Season with salt, pepper, and hot sauce. In order for the maximum flavor to develop, this dish should be cooked one day prior to serving and then reheated, but it's very delicious the day it is made, as well. Serve over steamed white rice.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...