Sunday, December 27, 2009

Red Beans and Rice Majastueux

Christmas at the Majestic was a fantastic affair.  Since I had to work at the restaurant on Christmas Eve, I wasn't able to spend Christmas Day with family in Louisiana, so I decided to bring Louisiana to Boston for myself and my friends.  Company started arriving around 4:30 and the party continued through the evening and into the wee hours of the morning.  It was wonderful to be around so many people that I love.  I was especially delighted to see some friends that I hadn't seen in about seven years.  What a fantastic holiday treat!

The conversation was lively and our singing around the piano was festive. Everyone seemed to really get into the holiday spirit with the help of the magnums of Segura Viudas Brut Reserva and the bottle of Eagle Rare Bourbon that I was gifted!  Activities for the night culminated in a late night Michael Jackson dance party as we ate the last of the sweets and drank the last of the mulled wine. We even had a little snowfall making it a white Christmas and a nice night to be inside enjoying a feast of hearty comfort food.  Given the circumstances, I wouldn't have spent it any other way.

I have already written about my shrimp étoufée recipe in an earlier post which I prepared that afternoon, but I was surprised at how delicious my red beans turned out.  It was a last minute choice to cook the beans since I thought I might not have enough to go around with just one dish.  I have come to think of them as being a Monday night sort of meal that you eat when you're on a budget and/or too busy to cook a proper meal and hardly special ocassion food. However, for me, they really brought a rustic Southern Louisiana charm to the evening, and I think most people were surprised at how fabulous something so humble could taste.  It ended up being a perfect and obvious choice; something that could sit and simmer on the burner over the course of the evening.  I invited my guests to help themselves when they were hungry, and that gave an even more "homey" feeling to our festivities, and I wasn't stuck in the kitchen plating food all night.  Next time you're hosting an informal gathering, give this recipe a try.  It's filling, budget-friendly, packed with flavor, and sure to please a crowd.

Red Beans and Rice Majestueux

1 12 oz. bag dried red beans
1 yellow onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound salt pork or a ham hock
1 Goya brand package "jamon" (pork) bouillon
1 turkey neck and/or smoked turkey wings
1 bay leaf
  1. Soak beans overnight in water.  Drain water before use.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients with enough water to cover in a crock pot. Season liberally with salt and cook on high for about an hour with the lid on. In lieu of a crock pot, use a sturdy cast iron pot and bring to a low boil, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for at least an hour before serving.  If you're not using a crock pot, put the lid on your cast iron pot at this point.
  4. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper and/or Tabasco.
  5. Serve over cooked rice and top with chopped parsley or scallions and a pat of butter.
If you know of any other "secret" ingredients to put into a pot of red beans to make them more delicious, let me hear from you.  Please leave a comment below and bon appetit!

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