Red Beans the Right Way is from Robert Medina's If You Can't Stand the Heat: A News Orleans Firefighter's Cookbook. Used with permission.
2poundsof dried Camellia red beans
6clovesof garlicfinely chopped
3 32-ouncecontainers of chicken stock
1poundof pickle meatdiced
1poundof hot smoked andouille sausage (cut
into small pieces)
4small smoked ham hocks
1/4cupof fresh parsleychopped
1cupof green onionschopped small
2whole bay leaves
Dash or two of Tabasco
Cooked white rice
Before you start, there are a few ground rules:
First, you will notice that there is no salt in this dish. That’s because there is so much salt in all of the meats and the stock that any more would be too much.
Second, check and stir them often … maybe even more than often. They like to be cooked over a low fire and really slow. And last but not least, people like their beans different ways. Some like them runny, and some like them thick. If you’re a thick bean person, here’s what you do: In the last half hour or so during the cooking process, mash a few beans along the inside of the pot with the back of a spoon. Scrape them off of the sides and mix them in. The more you mash, the thicker the beans will get.
The first thing to do is to put all of the chicken stock in a large pot along with the ham hocks. Let that simmer uncovered until the meat is ready to fall off the bone. This may take awhile, so be prepared. It may take from an hour to ninety minutes, depending upon the ham hocks, so begin it as early as you can. When done, remove the ham hocks to a plate to cool and save the stock. Add the beans to the hot stock and bring to a boil; then turn it down to a simmer.
The next step is to put your sausage and pickle meat in a non-stick frying pan and turn up the heat. You want to render some of the meat flavors and juices into the skillet. When the pickle meat is cooked through, remove both meats from the pan and add them to the bean pot. Put your onions, parsley, green onions, and celery into the frying pan with the meat juices and cook them until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and fresh-ground pepper. Two minutes after you add the garlic and fresh-ground pepper, pour the mixture into the pot with the beans.
Break the meat from the ham hocks into bite-size pieces and put it all in the pot along with the six cups of water. Add bay leaves and a good shot of Tabasco. Turn the fire down low and cover. Stir the beans often and make sure they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once all of the ingredients are in the pot, cooking time is usually about two and a half to three hours. I hate to be redundant, but … stir a lot.
After the allotted time has passed, the beans should be very soft. If not, cook them a while longer until they are. If they get too thick, add more water. Some dried beans are just harder than others and take longer to break down. Once you have cooked them for a while, you will be able to judge how thick you want them. Just try a couple of beans to make sure they are all cooked through and soft; then mash or don’t mash to get your proper thickness.