Last summer I came across a reference online to a cookbook called Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose, and well, the title had me at ‘screen doors’. I promptly went to Amazon and ordered it, and it turned out to be even better than I imagined.
This book is full of traditional and contemporary Southern recipes from the author’s native Mississippi and I am slowly making my way through each one. Since I love to read and to cook, I really enjoy cookbooks like this one that have stories and history along with the recipes.
In her cookbook, Martha says that “Monday is red beans and rice day, the ham bone left from Sunday dinner a foundation on which to build and a blessed dinner for the hurried pace of a workweek.” So I took her advice and used my leftover ham bone to cook her Monday Red Beans and Rice recipe.
It does take some planning if you want to use dried beans, since you need to soak them overnight (or at least quick soak them for an hour). If you haven’t cooked dried beans before, you should definitely give it a try. They are very inexpensive, and you really get a lot from one bag. I’m not sure why, but they just seem to have a little better flavor then canned. You can use the directions on the back of the bag for soaking and cooking. Just make sure to wait until the beans are tender before you season them, or they could become tough.
I did use some venison sausage when I made this, though the recipe calls for smoked sausage. Shake some hot sauce on top of it, and you’ll have a dish that will warm your tongue and your tummy. You will end up with a ton of leftovers, unless you’re John and Kate plus 8, so just put the rest in the freezer and save it for another busy day.
Monday Red Beans and Rice
from Screen Doors and Sweet Tea by Martha Hall Foose
- 1 pound dried red kidney beans
- 1 pound smoked sausage links, cut into 1 inch thick rounds
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, leaves and all, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 ham bone, with most of the meat removed and reserved, or 2 smoked ham hocks
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups cooked white rice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Soak the kidney beans in 6 cups of water overnight. Drain well.
- Heat a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes or until the sausage is nicely browned. Remove the sausage and reserve to put back later.
- Add the bay leaf, onion, bell pepper, and celery to the pot. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the ham bone, drained beans, and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Bring just to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Simmer for 2 hours, or until the beans are very tender. Stir occasionally, making sure to scrape any beans from the bottom of the pot that may have stuck. Add more water if the mixture is too thick. For a creamy consistency, mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with the back of a spoon.
- Add the browned sausage and any bits of ham, and simmer for 10 minutes more. Remove the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice, garnished with the parsley.