Here in Chicago, it is the time between spring and summer where winter still likes to make itself known. It is kind of cold outside and everyone is waiting, oh so patiently, for continuous warm weather. It is on days like these that I crave something warm and hearty to eat. I often find myself going back to my cooking roots in Creole/Cajun cooking and make a Gumbo from whatever I have handy, but today I had a real hankering for one of my favorite dishes: Red Beans and Rice.
I used to love to watch Justin Wilson on PBS and have always looked to Chef Paul Prudhomme for inspiration. As usual, I am using items that I have on hand and one big difference is that I am using adzuki beans instead of the traditional small red kidney beans.
Adzuki beans are most commonly found in Asian-based recipes. They are an exceptional source of protein and fiber as well revered for their health benefits.
In New Orleans, it is considered an important tradition to make red beans and rice on Mondays, but they are good anytime when you need something that is comforting and has a little kick.
Red Adzuki Beans and Rice with Smoked Ham Hocks and Andouille Sausage
½ pound of red adzuki beans
Water to cover the beans
Soak the beans in cold, clean water overnight or for at least for 8 hours. Afterwards rinse, drain and reserve for later in the cooking process.
2 smoked ham hocks
6-8 cups of water
2 tablespoons of red palm oil
3 stalks of celery, medium dice
1 each red and orange pepper, medium dice
1 red onion, medium dice
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of dried Italian herbs
½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
½ pound of andouille sausage
salt and Tabasco sauce to taste
Cooked long grain white rice
Green onions sliced on a bias for garnish
- In a 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat, add the red palm oil. When the oil is hot, add the andouille sausage and lightly caramelize. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and reserve until later.
- To the pan, add the celery, peppers, onion, and sweat the vegetables for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the celery has brightened. As the vegetables cook, make sure you work up any of the sausage fragments from the bottom of the pot.
- At this point, add the garlic and spices and cook for approximately 1 minute. Add the ham hocks and water. The water should come up to the top of the ham hocks. Bring to to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and cook for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, add the beans and adjust water as needed. Cover and continue to cook for another 45 minutes on low heat.
- Remove the ham hocks and allow them to cool enough to handle. Add the andouille back to the pan and increase the heat to medium. Cook the red adzuki beans until they are tender and mixture begins to thicken slightly. While the mixture is reducing, remove all the meat from the ham hocks and chop up into bite-size pieces. Add these back to the red adzuki beans and adjust the seasoning with salt and Tabasco.
- To serve, ladle approximately 1 cup of the mixture into a bowl and top with a dallop of white rice and a sprinkling of the bias cup green onions. Of course, Tabasco should always be close by.
Learn more dishes like this in our Cajun cooking classes at The Chopping Block. We have a brand new grilling class inspired by another chef's recent travels to New Orleans that I'm looking forward to this summer.