Figured I'd offer up a recipe as my way of saying hello. This dish takes a minimum of 3 hours to make but it's worth it. Cold nights, tail gate, or just trying to fatten up someone, it's serious comfort food.
1 (16oz) package dried red kidney beans
1lb smoked sausage, cut into 1/4" slices
1 (1/2lb) smoked ham hocks, cut in half
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 celery ribs, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
3 bay leaves
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp cajun seasoning (your favorite brand)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp black pepper
3 (32oz) containers of low sodium chicken broth
---I use Swansons, but any works including home made if you prefer. Doesn't have to be low sodium, but the dish is salty enough with the low sodium broth.
1 six pack of your favorite beer.
You can soak beans overnight if you'd like, but I just do it the quick way. Put the beans in a dutch oven or stock pot and fill with water to about 2 -3 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil for a minute or so, remove from heat and let them set for an hour. Drink a cold beer while you wait.
Fry the sausage and ham hocks in a frying pan (cast iron is the way to go here) using the oil for about 10 mins or browned real good. Drain the meat on some paper towels and drain the oil except for a couple of tbsp of the oil and drippings.
take all the veggies and spices and put it into the pan with the drippings. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. Now the key here is, this is not a race. You want the spices and the veggies to get to know one another in a easy sorta way. What you're actually doing is "sweating" the veggies, releasing their liquids to merge with the spices and everything just kinda gets to be best friends. 15mins or so? 20? don't want mush, but don't want raw. Take your time and get this right. The dish will be better because the flavors are allowed to develop. Drink a cold beer while the smell in your house starts to make the dog drool and the neighbors wonder what you're making.
Now if you timed this right, you won't have to wait for the beans to finish soaking and can get on it. Otherwise, when the beans are done soaking, drain them off and add to the pot, 2 of the containers of the chicken broth and the entire contents of the frying pan. Note here that you need a big pot. I think I use a 6qt and with everything added it's almost full. Add the sausage and ham hocks. Now take that frying pan and add some of the last container of chicken broth. You're not cooking this, what you're doing is using the liquid to get every last piece of spice and veggie out of the pan and added to the pot. Add some broth, stir it around, pour into pot. Keep doing that until the pan looks clean and add the rest of the broth to the pot. Now stir everything as you drink a fresh beer and slowly bring the pot to a slow simmer. Cook this pot of heaven, stirring once in awhile, for 2 hours uncovered. Take a break every so often to get a fresh beer.
at the end of the cooking time, remove the ham hocks and bay leaves. Serve the red beans over a bowl of long grain rice with some corn bread on the side. Don't forget your favorite bottle of hot sauce. Remember to gather the empty beer bottles and dispose of properly.
I forgot to mention. Make sure you get smoked ham hocks, not raw. And you may not be able to get your meat cutter to cut them in a half if they're small (1/2lb is about 3 hocks). To cut them you have to use a bandsaw and the butcher likes keeping his fingers and small hocks aren't worth the risk cutting. It's fine. The hocks are really for flavoring, although is you score or cut the fat sheath you'll get little bits of meat added to the beans during cooking and it's good. But you can also omit the sausage and hocks if you'd prefer a vegetarian dish. It does miss something in the overall flavor, but it's still pretty good. Just use about a tbsp or 2 of oil to get the veggies and spices going instead of 1/4c. If you can't get smoked ham hocks just use sausage.
8 QUARTS! 8qt pot! sorry guys, my mistake. no way a 6qt would be enough for this dish, as like I said when everything's in the pot it's almost full at the beginning of cooking. 8qt minimum. After 2 hours it does reduce down, volume wise. sorry for that slip.
just re-read and might have to attempt over the next couple of weeks