Friday, March 8, 2013

Just Ask Rosie. And Ange In Wisconsin Did. Red Beans And Rice.

 Rosie loves a challenge.

Not too long ago,
I received a Just Ask Rosie challenge
from my friend, Ange-in-Wisconsin. 

For those of you who don't know,
Just Ask Rosie
is a feature I offer.
If you have a culinary question
or if you'd like me to make a cyber-meal for you
so you can make it for yourself at home,
ask away.


Here's what my friend, Ange-in-Wisconsin, wrote:

 Hi dear! A good friend of mine had a husband who was from Louisiana & he made the bestest Red Beans & Rice I've ever had. Granted, I'm from Wisconsin so my exposure to said dish is limited at best. Anyway, my friend no longer has said husband (due to divorce - not a demise that was more fitting) but lord do I miss him making that dish. Hoping you can help a sister out. His version had smoked sausage and was incredibly creamy in texture and was spicy but not ring of fire deathly hot. See what you can do. As always, I will be most appreciative of your efforts.

 Hope u had a great birthday - the video of Beau beheading the snowman  made me laugh so hard. Dogs - gotta love them! 

 xoxo Ange in WI
 Ange in Wisconsin,
I'm happy to be of service.

I started out, as always, by researching, Googling, and checking out my own cookbook collection, most notably, Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen.

 Any discussion of Louisiana cooking must start with the Cajun/Creole aspects. Both cuisines are associated with Louisana, but they're two different styles of cooking.

Cajuns were Southern French protestants, the Huguenots, who emigrated to Nova Scotia in the early 1600s to escape religious persecution, and established the colony that came to be known as Arcadia.

For the next 150 years, they cultivated the land, maintained an agreeable relationship with the native MicMac Indians, and tried to remain neutral in the ongoing conflicts between the English and the French. During the French and Indian War, the Acadians refused to take up arms against the French and were expelled by the British in 1755 from the Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, and also from the US state of Maine, the area collectively known as Arcadie.

During Le Grand Dérangement, the Arcadians scattered far and wide. Many of them migrated to Louisiana, where they were well-received by the large French population  already living there.  After resettlement in Louisiana, the Arcadians became known as Cajuns.

From Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's  Evangeline:
Far asunder, on separate coasts, the Acadians landed;
Scattered were they, like flakes of snow, when the wind from the northeast
Strikes aslant through the fogs that darken the Banks of Newfoundland.
Friendless, homeless, hopeless, they wandered from city to city,
From the cold lakes of the North to sultry Southern savannas,--

The Cajuns settled along the waterways and turned to their traditions of fishing, trapping, and farming.  The ingredients in Cajun food depended on what was available.  There was seafood, an endless supply of game, chicken, pork, beef, and all kinds of vegetables.  Primary seasonings were filé powder, bay leaves, parsley, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a variety of other hot peppers.
Rice, an abundant Louisiana crop, is a staple of Cajun cooking  The Cajuns simply adapted their original dishes to accommodate the ingredients that grew wild in the area.

So what's the difference between Cajun and Creole cuisine?

First, the similarities:
Both cuisines are Louisiana-born.
Both have French roots.
Both have similar ingredients, such as the holy trinity - onions, bell peppers, and celery.
Both are living examples of people adapting to their new surroundings and neighbors.

Cajun cooking is very old.  It started in Southern France, moved to Nova Scotia, then made it to Louisiana.  It's French country cooking - simple, hearty fare.

Creole food was born in New Orleans.  Creole refers to people descended from the colonial settlers of Louisiana, especially those of French and Spanish descent.  Most who consider themselves Creole today are the descendents of those exiled from the Caribbean following the Haitian slave revolt of 1804.

The evolution of Creole cuisine depended, of course, on what foods were available, but Creole, unlike Cajun, is a mixture of the diverse traditions of numerous ethnic groups - French, Spanish, Italian, Caribbean, African, American Indian, and German, to name a few.  In the early days of New Orleans, seven flags flew over the city, and every time a new nation took over, the cooks and servants of the deposed government generally stayed behind.  The position of cook was a highly esteemed position and the best paid position in the household.  These cooks would be hired by another family of a different nationality, and the cooks, most of whom were black, would learn to change their style of cooking in order to accommodate their new employers.  In 1809 after the slave revolt, over 10,000 French, Free People of Color, and slaves came to New Orleans, doubling its population and adding another layer of culture that changed its food to more Caribbean and French cuisine that included beans, rice, richer soups, sauces made with roux, the tomato, and slower cooking methods.  Combine this with sausages from the Germans, spices and rice from the Spanish, and pastries and desserts from the Italians and you have a emerging cuisine

Wealthy Europeans from Northern United States came to New Orleans and hired Africans as domestic help.  The Africans introduced their employers to okra, a vegetable used to thicken and flavor soups.  Native Americans introduced local vegetables and spices, including sassafras for filé powder, corn, and bay leaf.

Gumbo, a traditional Creole dish, evolved by French colonists making their bouillabaisse with Louisiana ingredients.  Jambalaya, another traditional Creole dish, derives from the Spanish influence
of paella in New Orleans. Throughout the years, Creole cooks learned how to cook for a variety of nationalities, but still incorporated their own spicy spin on food.  Creole cuisine is city-cooking,
leaning toward classical European styles adapted to local ingredients.  Creole cuisine evolved in the homes of aristocrats. It's more sophisticated and complex than Cajun cuisine.

Red beans and rice is a Creole dish.  Red kidney beans made their way to New Orleans after the Haitian slave revolt from 1791-1804.  Wealthy white sugar planters fled to Louisiana, bringing with them red beans from the Caribbean.  And this dish was created in the French Quarter, le Vieux Carré, in New Orleans.

Traditionally, red beans and rice was made on Mondays, using pork bones and ham bone left over from Sunday dinner.  The holy trinity would be added (onions, peppers, and celery),  along with spices - thyme, cayenne, and bay leaf, and the dish would cook slowly and be served over a bed of rice.  Monday was traditionally a washday, so this dish of beans, requiring little hands-on attention, would sit on the stove and simmer all day while the women were cleaning.

And another little tidbit for you -  Louis Armstrong often signed autographs and letters with "Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours.  Red Beans and Rice featured prominently in Satchmo's life, to the point of his falling in love with Lucille, his fourth and last wife.

From Armstrong's autobiography:
……..I stopped her from Talking by slowly reaching for her Cute little Beautifully Manicured hand And said to her, “Can you Cook’ Red Beans and Rice? Which Amused her very much. Then it dawned on her that I was very serious. She—being a Northern girl and Me a Southern boy from N.O. She could see why I asked her that question. So She said: “I’ve never cooked that kind of food before. But—Just give me a little time and I think that I can fix it for you.” That’s All that I wanted to hear, and right away I said’ “How about Inviting me out to your house for dinner tomorrow night?” She said “Wait a minute, give me time to get it together, or my wits together, or Sompthing. We’ll say a Couple of days from now?” Gladly I Accepted. Two days later I was at her house on time with Bells on. Also my best Suit. I met her Mother Mrs. Maude Wilson. Then later I met, Jackie, Janet and Sonny. They all impressed me right away as the kind of Relatives that I could be at ease being around for the rest of my life.
The Red Beans + Rice that Lucille Cooked for me was just what the Doctor ordered. Very much delicious and I Ate Just like a dog. I said forgive me after I had finished eating. I Just had to make some kind of excuse. She accepted it very cheerful. Because I am sure that Lucille has never witnessed any one Human Being eating So much. Especially at one Sitting. I had her to save the rest of the Beans that was left over. Then I’d come another time and finish them. We commenced getting closer “n” closer as time went by .
 He even had his favorite recipe for Red Beans and Rice, which was demonstrated on The Mike Douglas Show in 1970, by Lucille. 

That said, Ange, let's make some red beans and rice.

First off,
the creaminess you're looking for
may have something to do with the actual bean.

A lot of New Orleans cooks swear by
Camellia Brand Red Kidney Beans.

When I looked into buying 4 1-pound bags
at $2.49 a bag,
my $9.96 worth of beans
required from $12.06 - $103.58 in shipping.

I declined on this offer.
Local markets don't carry Camellia brand either
so I'm using red kidney beans of indeterminate origin.

This is my "recipe."

Rosie's Red Beans and Rice

1 lb red beans, preferably Camellia Brand, cooked
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
small green, yellow, orange, and red peppers, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped

1-2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp dried cayenne powder
1-2 tsp dried thyme
5 fresh bay leaves  
If you only have dried bay leaves, use 2.  Dried is stronger than fresh.
Bacon grease
2 smoked ham hocks
1 qt pig stock 
I happened to have pig stock in the freezer.  Remember, I save all my bones.  If you don't have pig stock, I'd use chicken stock or broth.  The smoked ham hocks will impart their flavor anyway.
2 cups chicken stock 
I used a boxed low-sodium stock.
1 qt water
2 6-inch lengths andouille sausage, sliced on the diagonal, cooked
4 cups cooked white rice
sliced scallions
fresh parsley

All recipes for beans, including the instructions on the bag, tell you to rinse the beans and soak in water overnight.  I've never soaked my beans overnight. When I want a bean dish, I want it now, not tomorrow.  I rinse my beans, then put them in unsalted water, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for twenty minutes.  Then I drain and rinse off the beans and refresh the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, simmer for another 20 minutes.  Taste test. For regular bean dishes, I like my beans al denté and stop at 40 minutes.  For this particular dish, I gave the beans a little extra time.  Salt the beans after cooking.  Mr. Hawthorne tells me that pre-salting makes the skins split -  a Food Network Nugget.

Brown the ham hocks all over in the bacon grease.

Add and sauté the holy trinity of Louisiana cuisine - onions, bell peppers, and celery - in equal quantities in about 3 tablespoons of bacon grease.  Add in the garlic.  I always add the garlic in last because if it burns, your dish is ruined.  Burned garlic is very bitter and if it gets to that point, it's not salvageable.

Add in the stocks, the water, and the seasonings.

Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer.  Cover and slow simmer until the hocks are tender - 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from pan.  Find whatever meat might be in the hocks and pick off.  Mine was pretty much all fat, so Junior and Beau enjoyed a special treat and I threw the rest away.

Add in the beans.  Simmer for one hour, skimming the scum off the top.  When the liquid cooks way down and the beans start to split, start mashing the beans.  Don't mash the whole mess; leave some beans whole.

Sauté the andouille until nicely browned.

Cooked White Rice

1 cup white rice
1 14 oz. can chicken broth
2 TB chopped green pepper
2 TB chopped onion
2 TB chopped celery
3 TB melted butter 
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a 5 x 9 inch loaf pan, combine all ingredients and mix well.
Seal pan tightly with foil.
Bake at 350° for 70 minutes.

Rosie Tip #596:
Hold down the ALT key and type in 0176 to make the degree symbol.

To serve, mound rice on your plate, spoon on the red beans mixture, top with andouille sausage and sliced scallions and parsley.  Gotta have that green!  Sprinkle Texas Pete if desired.

Note to my readers:
I made this on Monday, my washday,
as according to tradition.

I made bacon for breakfast and saved the grease.

Here's what I'm using.
4 garlic cloves
1 onion
small green, yellow, orange, and red peppers
2 celery stalks
2 ham hocks
bay leaves
salt and pepper

Chop about that much celery, multi-colored peppers,
onion, and garlic.

I used two smoked pork hocks.

Dried herbs - oregano, thyme, and cayenne flakes.

Brown the hocks in the bacon grease.

Start adding in the vegetables.
That would be veggies to you, EAM.
And the veggies would be peppers,
(green, yellow, orange, and red)
celery, and onions -the holy trinity.

And there's garlic in there.

I have 2 cups of chicken broth left and
a quart of pig stock ...

 ...   from my Celine.

Add the chicken stock and pig stock.

A quart of water.

Bay leaves in.
Melt down the frozen quart of pork stock.

Add in the dried spices.

Bring to a boil.
Reduce to simmer.
 Cover until hocks are tender.
I let it go for 1 - 1 1/2 hours.
I don't see why you couldn't go 
for 2-3 hours here 
and get as much flavor out of those hocks as possible.
 Next time I do this,
and I will,
I'll give the hocks the extra hour or so,
adding more stock/water if needed.

Next, I'm starting on my rice.
I have some onion, celery, pepper, and garlic.

Chop it up.

Mix the holy trinity
- the celery, onions, and pepper -
into 1 cup of rice.
Add a little salt and pepper.

Add in a 14 ounce can of chicken stock.

Add in 3 TB melted butter.
Cover with foil and bake in a 350° oven
for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

After about 1 1/2 hours
I removed the hocks.

Add in the beans.

Bare simmer for an hour or so.

When the beans start to split
and the broth has reduced way down ...
...  start a-mashing.
Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed.

Get good quality andouille.
Mine, fresh andouille from the Teeter,
had just the right amount of spice and heat to it.
Slice on the diagonal.

Sauté the andouille until nicely browned.

I like my rice in mounds.

Ladle the beans over top of the rice.

Granted, this is not the most attractive of dishes,
but it makes up for it in flavor.

Top with the andouille.

Parsley and scallions.

Dig in!

The beans are nice and creamy.
You have the richness of the bean flavor
and the spicy heat of the andouille
tempered by the rice,
and all lightened, brightened, and lifted up by green.

Ange, I gotta say, we liked this.
A lot.

Try it out and let me know how you like it.
Hope it meets with your approval!

And please, any real Creole cooks out there,
I would love to hear from you about your recipes
for Red Beans and Rice.


Anonymous said...

Thanks as always Rosie! It looks amazing and turned out exactly as I was hoping. I will try this very soon and let you know how it goes.

Your faithful reader and "Ask Rosie" challenge maker,

Ange in WI

Rosie Hawthorne said...

You're welcome, Ange, and thank you. You always keep me on my toes. Hope you like this, and keep those "Just Ask Rosie"s coming in!