Cajun Red Beans and Rice:

My Best Recipe: Cajun Red Beans and Rice

by Josh Day

If you've ever had a great dish of red beans and rice, you'll always remember it. And you'll always try to find an equal or greater recipe, often being disappointed. Finally, I've perfected my red beans and rice recipe, which I had been working on for four years.

Ingredients and Directions:

1 bag of dry red kidney beans, soaked in a bowl overnight in your fridge
3/4 cup yellow onion, minced as finely as possible (a food chopper is ideal here)
1/4 cup celery, finely minced
1/4 cup green bell pepper, finely minced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely minced
1 smoked hamhock
1 32-ounce container chicken broth
32 ounces water
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 heaping Tbs Tony Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne powder (or more if you want the red beans hot)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp natural liquid smoke
1 Tbs olive oil
Cooked rice

Soak your beans in a large bowl overnight. The beans will triple in size so be sure you fill with enough water to cover all beans.

Finely mince your onion, bell pepper, and celery. A food chopper or food processor makes things a lot easier as you want everything almost pureed.

Add olive oil to a cast iron pot and head on medium low. Add smoked hamhock and let cook for five minutes to release flavor. Now add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Stir until onions turn translucent.

Clear a small area in the pot and add garlic. You may need to add a drop or two more oil. Stir garlic and cook for no more than a minute. DO NOT brown garlic as this turns it bitter and can ruin the dish.

When garlic is cooked -- you'll know because you'll smell it -- stir in with vegetables and hamhock.

Add parsley and bay leaves.

Season with Famous Creole Seasoning, cayenne, and ground black pepper. Forgo salt as the creole seasoning has plenty.

Stir and let the flavors come together for a minute.

Pour in chicken broth. Fill up container with water and also pour in.

Drain and rinse the beans well and then pour in the beans.

Add Liquid Smoke -- you want natural liquid smoke; you'll know because there will be no MSG or funny-sounding chemical in the ingredients -- and stir everything well.

Cook on stovetop for a minimum of five hours. The longer you cook it, the better it will taste.

You'll need to check the pot at least once every hour to top off with water and to stir. As the dish cooks, the beans will become creamy and everything will come together. Expect the beans to be watery for the first 3 or 4 hours.

Near the end of cooking remove the ham hock and bay leaves and mash beans with a potato masher if you want them more creamy. This is how Al Copeland made his red beans; they were almost a puree.

The best way to cook rice is to first rinse the dry rice several times in running water. The ratio of rice to water is 1:1; so if you're making 1/2 cup of rice, add 1/2 cup water, 2 cups of rice, add 2 cups of water, etc.

Here's a little secret... add a spoonful or two of the creamy beans to the rice and stir well before cooking.

Cover pot and cook rice on medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn on the lowest setting and cook for exactly 20 minutes. Then remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes, still covered. Never remove the cover during the cooking process.

Serve beans over rice and garnish with green onion stalks and a scattering of dried parsley. Also provide condiments like Tobasco hot pepper sauce, vinegar, and croutons.

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