[I want everyone in my family to know I wrote this last week and it just went up by itself this morning. I am not a horrible person.]
I alluded to this a few posts ago—Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana cookbook. I decided to make his red beans and rice with ham hocks and andouille sausage, though without the sausage, because I’m not big on meat. I was going to do it without the ham hocks as well, but I happened to find myself in a butcher shop the other day, so I bought them. I don’t think the dish would have tasted like much without them; it is intensely porky. And the hocks themselves, when you can get any meat off them, are REALLY good. Mostly they are just fat and skin, though, which I cannot eat. It’s a texture thing. Ewewewewew.
I made these after a very long day and weekend of cooking, so I was a bit burned out, but here we go. (I also didn’t do the rice properly because I’d had enough—extraordinarily simplified recipe below.)
First I had to chop 2 1/2 c celery, 2 c onions, and 2 c green bell peppers. I just stood there chopping for about seven years while complaining to Sarah (friend, not sister) at great length. It took about forty-five billion hours. (Oh, the red beans were soaking overnight.)
I put the ham hocks—I’d bought three instead of six, because that seemed like enough, and had the guy cut them in half (Wait, time for a dialogue.
Me: Do you have ham hocks?
Him: Yes. They’re small.
Me: OK. Can I have… um… three?
Him: [gets ham hocks] Should I quarter them?
Me: Ummmmm yes?
Him: Or halve them? Or leave them alone?
Me: Ummmmmmmm halve them?
Him: [halves them]
Me: [AAAAAH these look like pig legs/feet] [because they are] [I don’t really remember what they are, I Wikipediaed them once and don’t really want to do it again]
… anyway. Ham hocks went in my Dutch oven with ten cups of water, the Holy Trinity, and a bunch of seasonings. I boiled it, turned it to simmer, and left it for an hour. (OOh, look, my first “More” tag! Click it.)
Then I removed the now-cooked ham hocks and added the beans and four more cups of water. Things were smelling a bit scary.
Then I freaked out because it was about to overflow—you needed a 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven and mine is only three—so I very un-scientifically moved some of the beans and water into another regular pot. Everything cooked for a while longer, la la la. I was very tired. I stuck some rice in my rice cooker with butter, bouillon cubes, and butter. There was an extremely strange sound in my apartment just now and it wasn’t the cat.
After the bean mixture had reduced a lot, I re-combined them. At the end I added the ham hocks back in, cooked it for ten more minutes, and then turned it off and portioned it into tupperwares. At this point I was really scared of it and did not want to even taste it. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned that I’m not a meat person at all, and actually don’t really like pork. So I’m not sure why I did this with the ham hocks. At this point I was exhausted, my entire apartment was an insane mess, and everything smelled like meat.
After everything was Tupperwared, I locked myself in my bedroom and pretended everything in my apartment wasn’t wildly disgusting and covered with like meat droplets or something. (I have no pictures of the end product. I do have a picture of my disgusting kitchen, but I have decided it does not need to be in the Internet.)
OK. Next day. I put rice, beans, and a ham hock into a bowl and microwaved it for a while. There was not much meat to be gotten from the ham hock, and I wasn’t crazy about the beans themselves. Nothing was salty enough, and overall it was just really meaty. My Jewish, pseudo-pescatarian soul cried out. I resolved to become a vegetarian again.
Next next day. I had to eat it again. This ham hock was much meatier, and I was able to shred it and add it back into the bowl with the rice and beans. It was super super really good. I was glad I had not emailed my dad asking if he wanted to take it all off my hands, as I had been considering. (He is more Jewish than me, and also likes pork more. I assume these things are correlated.) I decided not to become vegetarian after all.
So did Fitzpatrick.
So moral of the story is that I am probably going to be cooking mostly vegetarian things again, because I don’t like meat. But sometimes meat happens.
Red Beans and Rice, Julie-Style (by Paul Prudhomme)
1 lb dry red kidney beans
Water to cover the beans
6 large ham hocks (or however many you want)
16 c water, total
2 1/2 c finely chopped celery
2 c finely chopped onions
2 c finely chopped green bell peppers
5 bay leaves
2 tsp white pepper (I never saw any in stores until I went to a Chinese supermarket in Flushing)
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp Tabasco
1 lb andouille smoked sausage, if you want
4 1/2 c rice (see below)
Leave the beans to soak overnight.
The next day, put the ham hocks, 10 c water, celery, onions, bell peppers, bay leaves, and seasonings in a ridiculously enormous pot. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, or until meat is fork-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove ham hocks and set aside.
Add the drained beans and 4 c water to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes. Add 2 c water and simmer 30 more minutes. Add sausage, if using, and simmer about 35 more minutes, until beans start breaking up. (DO NOT burn the beans. I guess just stir a lot, and if they burn, you have to move everything to a new pot without scraping the burnt stuff off, according to Paul.) Add the ham hocks and cook for 10 more minutes.
2 c uncooked rice (Paul says converted, whatever that is; I used brown)
2 1/2 c chicken stock, or water + bouillon cubes, however much you’d normally use
[You are supposed to include 1 1/2 tbsp each onions, celery, and bell peppers. I was like, FUCK THIS, I just chopped everything in the universe, and I am never chopping again.]
1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted [or just throw it in the rice cooker with everything else]
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp garlic powder
A pinch each white, cayenne, and black pepper
Dump everything in your rice cooker and turn it on.