It didn’t take me long after moving to Texas to realize how delicious Cajun food is. I had been making Fluffy Gumbo for many years, but when I got my hands on the real thing I was in love.
After visiting many Cajun restaurants in both Houston and New Orleans, I started thinking about making my own Cajun recipes. I tried recipes from various chefs, but then I saw mention of Chef Paul Prudhomme and his recipes received high praise. I spent 75 cents on a used copy of his cookbook Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. The photography very much reflects when it was printed (1984), but the recipes are fantastic.
One note about this cookbook — the recipes are not shy in their use of butter and heavy ingredients. This is not low fat cooking.
And each recipes makes an epic amount of food. I tend to divide them into reasonable portions and freeze for later. But be warned.
When it comes to Cajun, étouffée and gumbo are my favorites, but I am also partial to red beans and rice every once in a while. My husband particularly loves it. So I figured I would tackle some red beans and rice!
The original recipe calls for ham hocks. I’ve cooked with ham hocks before. I’ve tried. I just can’t do it. They gross me out. So I decided to substitute smoked bacon. I’m actually one of the few people on earth who dislikes bacon (fatty meats are unappealing to me) but I wanted to stay as close as I could to the ham hocks. I ended up chopping up the bacon and mixing it in at the end again. It looks a little weird (I’m probably more squeamish about bacon fat than most people), but it ended up tasting quite good.
I also used an unusual method for dealing with the onions. My husband hates the texture of onion and since I’m not just cooking for myself, I work with it. For this recipe, I tied a sliced up onion in cheesecloth and cooked it with the broth, then discarded it later. My hope is that this allow the onion to still contribute flavor. For your dish, just include the onion.
My final conclusion? AMAZING. This was a fantastic recipe and tasted just right. It’s so good. And makes enough to eat for a week or two.
Red Beans and Rice with Bacon and Smoked Sausage
Adapted from the recipe by Paul Prudhomme from Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen
- 1 lb dry red kidney beans
- 1 lb smoked bacon
- 16 cups water, in all
- 2.5 cups finely chopped celery
- 2 cups finely chopped onions
- 2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
- 5 bay leaves
- 2 tsp white pepper
- 2 tsp dried thyme
- 1.5 tsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- .5 tsp black pepper
- 1 tbsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 lb andouille sausage or other smoked pork sausage, cut as you prefer
- Cooked rice (can be plain or cooked with stock, butter, and a pinch of pepper)
Cover the beans with water 2 inches above beans. Let stand overnight. Drain just prior to use.
Place bacon, 10 cups of water, celery, onions, and bell pepper, bay leaves, and all other seasonings in a 5.5 quart pot. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is fork tender, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon, chop, and set aside.
Add the drained beans and 4 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 2 cups of water and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often.
Stir in the andouille and continue simmering until the beans start to break up, about 35 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan often. (If the beans scorch, do not stir. Transfer into a new pot without transferring burned beans.) Add bacon and cook 10 minutes more. Serve immediately with rice.