Red beans and rice is not a dish people in Kentucky grow up eating, unless they have parents from the deep south (Louisiana/Mississippi region). We do eat a lot of beans in Kentucky, but mostly pintos or white beans, like navy or great northern. For me, my introduction to red beans came early, because my father has family in Mississippi and we visited there on family vacations sometimes. I remember my Aunt Tootsie (yes, I did say Tootsie...lol) saying she was going to have to "fix us red beans and rice before we went home" and me thinking how that sounded odd, but interesting.
As a child, when we visited anyplace, I always worried about the food and what we would be served. From past experience, it could go well or make for a long trip if the hosts were bad cooks or served weird things. My aunt had been raised in Kentucky and Tennessee, but still spent most of her adult life in Mississippi, so her cooking.. a mixture of the two... was really good. When the red beans and rice were finally served, I was skeptical, but they smelled so good. We had already had the rice experience as far as having rice in place of potatoes, even with roast beef and gravy which was odd, but good. I am not sure most people this near the Mason Dixon line could get used to gravy over rice though...too many Scotch-Irish folks...lol. I gave the beans a try and to my delight, they were something I really liked. If your family doesn't like red beans, substitute pinto beans and use this same recipe...it's different, but so good!
I never thought about it growing up, but we never had them at home, once back in Kentucky. My mother finally admitted to me, not long ago, that she really doesn't like red beans. Guess that explains it! I love all Cajun food and I get weird cravings for it. Yesterday, I had to have red beans and rice. Sometimes, Zatarain's is the best I can do, but this time I wanted something more home cooked than that. I make red beans in the slow cooker, because they are actually just as good done this way and easy as can be.
Here is what you will need:
Dried red beans, ham hock, green pepper, onion, celery, garlic, smoked sausage, Tony Chachere's seasoning, pepper, and salt.
1 lb dried red kidney beans
1 ham hock (use 2 if you like a lot of ham)
1 pkg smoked sausage of your choice
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped celery
1 Tbs chopped garlic
1 Tbs bacon grease
1/2 Tbs. Tony Chachere's seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
10 cups water (after a couple of hours add a little more if needed, the beans will swell and absorb a lot of liquid)
dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
Wash and rinse the beans and place in crock pot with the ham hock which has been rinsed off also. Diced celery, green pepper, and onion (the cajun Trinity) and pour over all. Slice smoked sausage and place on top. Add garic, pepper, and Tony Chachere's Seasoning. Add 10 cups of water and set on low to cook over night (8-10 hours). Remove the ham hock to cool and then pick the lean meat off of it and add it back to the pot. Taste for seasoning before adding the salt, because the meats and cajun seasoning are salty and you might not need additional salt.
Cook some white rice and I like to put a scoop right in the middle of the bowl and ladle the beans over. It's so good!