Red Beans and Rice Recipe

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Today on Good Food, Tom Fitzmorris shares his thoughts on eating in New Orleans after Katrina and the oil spill.  He said that a lot of young people in the city have stopped eating old favorites like red beans and rice, something his mother made every Monday.  Here’s his recipe:

Tom Fitzmorris’ Red Beans and Rice

1 lb dried red beans
1/4 lb bacon or fatty ham
½ green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
12 sprigs parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 qts Water
2 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 tsp savory
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp Tabasco
¼ cup green onion tops, chopped
2 Tablespoon parsley, chopped

1. Sort through the beans and pick out any bad or misshapen ones. Soak the beans in cold water overnight. When ready to cook, pour off the soaking water.
2. In a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven, fry the bacon or ham fat till crisp. Remove the bacon or ham fat, and set aside for garnish (or a snack while you cook).
3. In the hot fat, sauté the bell pepper, onion, celery, parsley and garlic until it just begins to brown. Add the beans and three quarts of water. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a simmer. Add the salt, bay leaf, savory, black pepper, and Tabasco.
4. Simmer the beans, uncovered, for two hours, stirring two or three times per hour. Add a little more water if the sauce gets too thick.
5. Mash about a half cup of the beans (more if you like them extra creamy), and stir them in into the remainder. Add salt and more Tabasco to taste. Serve the beans over rice, cooked firm. Garnish with chopped green onions and parsley.

THE ULTIMATE: Grill some patties of Creole hot sausage and deposit them, along with as much of the fat as you can permit yourself, atop the beans. Red beans seem to have a limitless tolerance for added fat.

MEATLESS ALTERNATIVE: Leave the pork out of the recipe completely, and begin by sautéing the vegetables, other than the beans, in ¼ cup olive oil. At the table, pour extra-virgin olive oil over the beans. This may sound and look a bit odd, but the taste is terrific, and everything on the plate – beans, rice and olive oil – is a proven cholesterol-lowerer.