Do the Beans Matter?
January 30, 2015
Stopped in at The Little Jewel of New Orleans Grocery and Deli today, to get some gumbo to go. It may be one of L.A.'s best bargains- a really righteous bowl of gumbo, a side of rice, along with toast and butter for about ten bucks. A fantastic dinner.
Haven't tried anything else here, although I'm thinking those muffalettas would be perfect Super Bowl fare, and I did bring some boudin blanc home for a midnight snack. I'm pretty sure this is the real thing – proprietor and chef Marcus Christiana-Beniger can really cook. Can't wait to try the po' boys, although frankly I can't imagine there's anything here I wouldn't like.
We wandered through the aisles of the shop, looking at all those classic New Orleans products. Laurie picked up a package of kidney beans and said, "These are the right kind of beans for red beans and rice. You should buy some." I thought – do beans really make that much of a difference? Still, I bought some. They weren't cheap; a pound of beans cost half what the gumbo did. It was the same price as the boudin. Five bucks a pound: pretty pricey beans.
But they were absolutely worth it.
Came home and followed the directions on the package.
It probably helped that I had some Snake River Farms Kurobata Ham to use for what the package calls "seasoning meat." But I'm guessing it didn't help all that much. It was the Camellia Kidneys that made this the most satisfying pot of beans I've ever cooked.
I will never again be without them. The beans smelled fantastic while they were cooking. They tasted great with rice. And they went up against that gumbo. Didn't win. But weren't embarrassed.
Cajun Red Beans
1/2 pound Camellia Red Kidney Beans
4 cups water
1/4 pound ham or "seasoning meat," diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 garlic "toe"
1/2 stalk of celery, chopped
handful of chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
Wash the beans and sort through them. Put them in a pot with the water and bring to boil. Turn down to a simmer.
Put the ham into a skillet and cook until it's given up its fat. Add the onion, garlic, celery and parsley, and cook until the vegetables are soft and fragrant. Add this to the beans.
Toss in the bay leaf and a fair amount of salt and pepper.
Simmer, covered, for an hour and a half or two, until the beans are soft. Take a spoon and smash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken and make the beans creamy.
Serve with rice and Cajun hot sauce to 4 very happy people.
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That stores markup is crazy. You can get a 1lb bag of red beans from Walmart for 1.79 cents. I like to soak my beans overnight get rid of the gas. Also like to bring them to a boil after soaking overnight in a pot of fresh water you will see a lot of white foam come to the top skim this off. Looks like you did a great job!! I like to add a little Tony’s to mine along with a ham hock gives it a nice smoke flavor.