Red Beans and Rice (and cascarones)

We’re still without a pressure cooker, but today is slow and rainy, so I made red beans and rice in the hope of having leftovers to last into the busy week ahead.

I followed the Joy of Cooking’s recipe, more or less, which calls for 2 cups of red beans, 8 cups of water, a cup each of finely chopped celery and onion, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, a teaspoon each of dried oregano, thyme, and white pepper (I used black), two bay leaves, and a half teaspoon red pepper flakes. As well as a ham hock and a cup of finely chopped green bell pepper, neither of which I had. So I minced a small pile of pickled jalapeño to take the place of the bell pepper (more to my taste, anyway). To compensate for the missing ham hock, I added a scant tablespoon of salt to the cooking water, as well as the 3/4 cup or so of mushroom-soaking liquid left over from this wonderful meal J-P made last weekend.

These were good substitutions, but when I sniffed, the overall effect was surprisingly vegetal. Herbal. Not what I’m looking for in red beans. So I added a teaspoon dried parsley and a half teaspoon yellow mustard powder (a flavor-boosting combo I recently used to good effect in a potato-leek soup that had to be dairy free), and then a teaspoon smoked paprika, an 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne, and a splash of white wine vinegar. Much better.

We served this with andouille sausage over white rice, with a side of kale sauteed with garlic, and Liza brought a chocolate honey cake for dessert.

And I had a present for Liza, who said yesterday that it wouldn’t seem like Easter without cascarones.


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