Recipe by CSA member Ralph
Red beans, like some other well-known Creole dishes (jambalaya and gumbo) start with “trinitè”, a mix of 2 parts onion, 1 part bell pepper, and 1 part celery. I like to start the dish by sauteing the trinitè in bacon fat. If you don’t care for that, butter or vegetable oil also work.
Chop 2 strips of bacon, render the fat, and reserve the fried pieces.
Slice and saute together in the bacon fat until they start to soften:
1 large onion
1 medium bell pepper
enough celery to match the volume of bell pepper
Add and simmer to meld the flavors. :
1 smoked ham hock
water to cover everything
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 – 3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp ground black pepper
Hot pepper (The type and quantity is up to you. I most often use powdered cayenne or chipotle but have used fresh jalapenos, serranos, or whatever else came in the farm share.)
The goal is a rich, smoky, spicy hot vegetable broth. The vegetables should still be mostly intact. Just before adding the beans, cut the ham hock meat off the bone and return it to the broth.
Finally, add the beans and the other ingredients:
4 cans dark red kidney beans, 5 if your pot will hold them. (If you use dry beans, you already know how to soften them. I finally gave that up and just buy them in cans.)
Smoked sausage to your taste (Andouille is traditional but others, such as kielbasa, also work.)
The reserved bacon
Salt to taste
Cook until the beans start to disintegrate and thicken the dish. It should be just thin enough to ladle but not soupy.
In the meantime, cook rice according to package instructions.
To serve, put rice on the plate and top with the red beans. Tabasco is often served on the side for those who wish to “up” the flavor with its vinegar and hot pepper flavors.