By Tim H. Martin
I've had a couple of friends from New Orleans ask me what made these "Alabama" red beans and rice. I reminded them that Louisiana isn't the only state with Cajun and Creole culture.
Alabama has plenty of Cajuns, too, down in our own bayou country. In fact, the very first organized Mardi Gras was in Mobile, not New Orleans. Besides, this is my recipe and I'm from Sweet Home Alabama, and, oops, I failed to tell them I was born in New Orleans.
So, from the state that brought you Mardi Gras and Buckmasters, enjoy Tim's Alabama Red Beans & Rice.
1 pound, dry red beans
Cold water, enough to cover beans in crock pot by 1/4 inch
1 pound, hickory smoked or Andouille sausage links, in 1/2 inch slice
2 hickory smoked ham hocks OR two smoked turkey drumsticks
2 Tbls. butter
1 Tbls. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt, to taste
1 Tbls. Worcestershire sauce
Black pepper, to taste
2 bay leaves
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
1 Tbls. Creole seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's or Emeril's
Total crock-pot cooking time 6-8 hours.
Step 1. Soak the dried beans overnight in a large bowl with plenty of water.
Step 2. Rinse and pick through the beans and place in a 5 quart or larger crock pot. Add cold water until water covers the beans by 1/4 inch. Nestle the ham hocks or turkey legs down into the beans and cook on high 2 hours.
Step 3. Brown sausage in a skillet and drain fat. Add the sausage, along with the salt, pepper, bay leaves, Creole Seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and Cayenne pepper to the crock-pot. Cook on high 2 more hours.
Step 4. Remove ham hocks or turkey legs. Pull meat from bones and discard bones. Skim the fat from the crock pot, and return the pulled ham hock or turkey meat. Stir. Cook on low for an additional 2 to 3 hours.
Step 5. Heat butter and olive oil to medium-high. Sauté onions, garlic, bell pepper and celery until slightly tender. Add vegetables to the crock pot and cook for the remaining 2 hours on low. Do not add earlier or they will overcook. Add water and skim fat as needed.
I like to serve Alabama Red Beans over risotto, but traditionally the dish is served over white rice. Garnish with chopped green onions and hot sauce. French bread or biscuits will be perfect for sopping. This recipe will make a large quantity, and leftovers can be frozen.
In New Orleans, it's traditionally a stand alone supper, but red beans and rice is incredibly well-suited as a side dish for fish or shrimp. I like to freeze leftovers and thaw out a pack whenever we have a fish fry.