1 pound red kidney beans — dry1 large onion — chopped1 each bell pepper — chopped5 each rib celery — choppedgarlic — minced1/2 teaspoon dried thyme — or more if needed1 each bay leaf — or more if neededtabasco sauce — to tasteCreole seasoning (See separate recipe) — to taste (start with a tablespoon)salt — to tasteliquid smoke — to taste (start with a teaspoon)
Soak the beans overnight, if possible. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot. Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans for about 45-60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.
While the beans are boiling, saute the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sauteed vegetables to the beans, then add seasonings, and just enough water to cover. Add 2 tablespoons vegetable oil along with the seasonings. Add liquid smoke, to taste – start with about a teaspoon.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn’t burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot. (If the beans are old — say, older than six months to a year — they won’t get creamy. Make sure the beans are reasonably fresh. If it’s still not getting creamy, take 1 or 2 cups of beans out and mash them, then return them to the pot and stir.
If you can… let the beans cool, stick them in the fridge, and reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They’ll taste a LOT better. When you do this, you’ll need to add a little water to get them to the right consistency.
Serve generous ladles-full over hot white long-grain rice, pickled onions and good French bread. There are some great vegan sausages out there that you can serve as well – grilled, preferably, but you could fry or broil them as well.
Adapted by Daniel from a recipe by Chuck Tagart in the Gumbo Pages.
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