Red Beans & Rice Serves 6

  • ½ pound dried small red beans *
  • 4 scallions
  • 1 smoked pork shank or hock (about 1 pound)
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 3 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ rib celery, sliced, or ¼ teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 1 teaspoon salt for rice, plus additional to taste, if necessary

Recipe by Dan Taggart, Draeger's Wine Department

This is a fine example of why even rich people love peasant food! So beloved in the American South, red Beans and Rice costs little to make but tastes so good that it is hard to push oneself away from the table. Use of the quick-soak method of softening dried beans allows this dish to be prepared in about two hours. Most of that time the pot will be simmering quietly on the stovetop, requiring little attention from you. Beans and rice served together happen to be highly nutritious, a happy circumstance if payday is a week away but your wallet is almost empty!

Wash and pick over beans, removing any stones or debris. Place them in a 3-quart saucepan and add 4 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, cover, turn off the heat, and allow beans to soak for 1 hour.

Drain the soaking liquid and add 4 cups fresh cold water to the beans. Bring them to a boil and boil, uncovered, for 10 full minutes. Slice white part of scallions and about 2 inches of green part and add to beans. Slice remaining green tops of scallions and reserve for garnish. Then add to beans the smoked pork, onion, celery, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, thyme, and black pepper. Bring pot back to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, partly covered, until beans are tender but not mushy, 30 to 40 minutes.

While beans are cooking, prepare the rice. In a medium bowl, rinse the rice with cold water, agitating thoroughly and changing the water and draining well several times until the water runs clear. In a 3-quart heavy pot, combine the rinsed rice, 3½ cups cold water and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over high heat, cover pan, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes without uncovering. Remove the cooked rice from the heat and let sit until serving.

Remove smoked pork from beans and let cool enough to handle. Pick the smoked pork off the bone, discarding skin and bone. Cut meat into ¼-inch pieces and return them to the bean pot. Taste beans for salt-the salty smoked pork may have seasoned them enough.

To serve, portion a cup of freshly cooked white rice into a large bowl for each person. Ladle 1 to 1½ cups beans around the rice, leaving rice visible in the middle. Garnish each bowl with the reserved sliced scallion tops and serve hot.

*You may substitute kidney beans, pinto beans or black beans; the color of the finished dish may vary a little, but the flavor will be just as good.

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