*If you add a dash of liquid smoke you'll be amazed at the intensification of the flavor!
OPTIONAL: 1 lb Andouille, smoked or Polish sausage, sliced on the diagonal.
OR, add a ham hock for flavor
2 lb dry red kidney beans
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup celery, finely chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
A LITTLE HISTORY: This is a dish traditionally served on Mondays. Back when there were no washing machines, folks devoted most of Monday to laundry. They didn¿t have time to be in the kitchen a long time preparing dinner (remember, they cooked on wood burning stoves, so had NO conveniences like us). The night before, they soaked the dried beans. If they had the money, they might have bought some sausage to add to the dish. If not, they seasoned the beans with ham hock.
In the morning, they put them on to cook most of the day (no, we¿re not expecting YOU to do that). Periodically, they would return to the kitchen from washing duties and stir the pot of beans to prevent them from scorching on the bottom
(yes, we DO expect you to do that task - stir them occasionally). At the end of the day, the beans would be ready and they prepared the rice. The beans would be served over rice. A simple but filling meal.
Wash and soak beans overnight. Beans must always be covered by water, or they will discolor and may harden.
Drain water from beans and put the beans into a large pot.
Cover them with fresh water and bring to a boil over high heat.
Stir beans well and let them settle into bottom of pot.
Over medium heat, cook 45-minutes to 1 hour until tender, but not mushy. Stir frequently.
While the beans are boiling, sauté your ¿holy trinity¿ of onions, celery, bell pepper until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for a couple of more minutes, stirring occasionally.
After the beans are boiled and drained, add bell pepper, onions, celery, garlic, and seasonings (if using sausage, add it now).
Add just enough water to cover. Bring items to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 2-3 hours, or until beans are tender. Stir occasionally, so it doesn't scorch, burn or stick to the bottom of the pot.
Remove from heat. Many New Orleanians prefer their red beans to be creamy. If so, you can puree or mash all through a course strainer.
Serve over just cooked, long grain rice. (This is another of the New Orleans dishes that is more intense in flavor if held overnight, so out in refrigerator and reheat the next day.)