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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Red beans and rice (Creole Louisiana version)

The "red beans and rice" dish is really iconic to the Southern culture of the United States, to its Creole community and beyond it. It was traditionally made on Mondays in a large pot and served to a crowd. There are still a lot of pubs in the area that have this staple in their menus every Monday. 
My dear Louis Armstrong considered this his favorite dish and he used to famously sign his autographs with "red beans and ricely yours, Louis Armstrong". :)
Similar dishes are popular throughout the world. That is probably because the combination of beans and rice is not only delicious, but also very inspired: when paired, the two create a more complex protein that usually lacks from the diet of the poor (who can't afford meat), and thus dishes like this prevented a lot of deficiencies. 
Returning to the dish here, it may or may not contain smoked meat (some smoked hock or sausage, added in the beans while they cook or at the end, on top of the dish). It's usually cooked on the mild side of spices, but served next to a bottle of hot sauce (as I also did, see above). The rice is mounded up in the middle of the plate, while the bean mixture is spooned around it. I really liked it. :) Enjoy.

Last year: Smoked trout, fennel, apple and beet salad.
Two years ago: Garlic soup with chorizo and mustard (Czech).
Three years ago: Cream liquor cocktailGreen apple and peanut butter muffins and Brie, walnut and caraway salad.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):
  • 2 tablespoons oil (or lard)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 1 large wedge of celery root
  • 1 red bell peppper (or 1 small carrot)
  • salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 200 g red kidney beans, soaked overnight 
  • a slice of butter (optional)
  • 4 cups of cooked white rice to serve
  • some sausage to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the chopped garlic and stir. Add the mined onion. Mix well and let it soften. 

Meanwhile, cube the celery and the carrot or bell pepper. 
When the onion is softened, add the rest of the veggies. 

Fry them a bit until softened (5 minutes). Add the spices, the bay leaf, the water and the beans. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it all simmer until the beans are cooked (or more). 
Turn off the heat and mix in the slice of butter.

Transfer to serving plates together with the rice and serve with plenty of hot sauce. It's done, dig in! :)

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