It’s my brother’s birthday week (Happy Early Birthday Davey!) so I figured this would be a fine time to highlight a favorite staple dish of his: red beans and rice. I, of course, spent most of my life avoiding this dish (ahem, beans) but in the past year have learned to make it and love it, thanks to his awesome recipe. The method is simple, so what really matters is quality ingredients and patience. I love to take a lazy Sunday afternoon and let the red beans and rice simmer on the stove for at least two hours while I catch up on some video gaming. Also – there are leftovers galore, which we all know I love to have for the work week.
Since this post could be considered a cheat post (his recipe is featured here) I am also including a recipe for his favorite pimento cheese from a restaurant in Richmond, Virginia called Comfort. The recipe is featured in the fantastic cookbook of Richmond favorites: 80Fork. Also, why not throw in a basic biscuit recipe that literally takes 20 minutes to execute! Pimento cheese and biscuits are magical when eaten together.
Seriously, pimento cheese is a big thing in my family – or at least for my brother and me. It’s typically a special occasion type of treat, but every once in a while I’d purchase a tub from Fresh Market and go through it in 2-3 days…(I know, I know, it’s terrible for you). I realized this weekend I hadn’t had pimento cheese for quite some time – not since last October. When trying to describe how to make pimento cheese to some coworkers – summed up as “cheddar, mayo, peppers, and a whole lot of goodness” – I got some crazy looks and now feel as though there are some spots in the Northeast that could do with an education on such things. I will happily do my part to teach the class: it goes best with ham, pickles, and some sort of carb – as previously stated, I recommend biscuits but also do yourself a favor and buy a box of Ritz crackers!
Red Beans and Rice
Adapted from My Latin Wife Can’t Cook
3 cans red kidney beans, drained
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
3 links of smoked Andouille sausage
1 smoked ham hock
Chicken stock – roughly 32-40 ounces
1-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (I like it hot)
2 bay leaves
Crystal hot sauce
For prep: chop the onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic and set aside. Slice the Andouille into thin medallions. In two or three batches, brown the sausage in a bit of olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottomed pot or Dutch oven for about 2-3 minutes on each side. Then remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Next add the onion, green bell pepper, and celery to the pot and sauté until slightly translucent in the left over fat. Season with salt and pepper and add additional olive oil if necessary. After about 10 minutes, add in the garlic, stir to combine, and sauté for another minute or so.
When the veggies are ready to go, add the drained red kidney beans and sausage to the pot, stirring to combine. Season the mixture again with a bit of salt and pepper, as well as with the dried oregano and cayenne. Then, pour in the chicken stock, ensuring there is about a half inch of liquid above the beans. Finally, place the smoked ham hock and bay leaves in the mixture, and stir to combine once more.
Bring the pot to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours. Stir and taste occasionally as the liquid reduces. When ready to serve, remove the ham hock (and pick at the meat if you are like me) and add the fresh parsley to the pot. Using the back of a large spoon, mash about half of the beans against the side of the pot to create a creamy, slightly thicker consistency.
Red beans and rice is traditionally served with white rice, but I like to use brown. Top with chopped green onion, additional fresh parsley, and a healthy amount of Crystal hot sauce.
Adapted from Jason Alley of Comfort
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 small roasted red bell pepper, diced
½ shallot, minced
1 sprig tarragon, minced
6.4 oz Duke’s mayonnaise
1-2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 dash Crystal hot sauce
1 dash Cayenne pepper
1 dash smoked paprika
½ tsp black pepper
Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well-blended. Then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with Ritz crackers, pickles, ham, biscuits, sandwiches, etc. The cheese will hold for 3-4 days.
Never Fail Biscuits
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
For 12 biscuits
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached Self-Rising Flour
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Combine the flour and heavy cream in a mixing bowl until smooth. Scoop 1-ounce balls of dough onto a baking sheet with a couple of inches in between each scoop. Then brush the tops of the biscuits with a touch of cream to help them rise. Bake for 10 minutes until light gold brown and serve warm.