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New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. dried red kidney beans
2 quarts cold water
1 meaty ham bone or a thick slice of ham, cut into cubes
1/2 pound hot sausage, sliced thick
1 bunch of scallions, including green tops
1 bell pepper
2 stalks of celery
3 medium onions
Large pinch of ground thyme
4 bay leaves
Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce
Salt, Pepper and White Rice (cooked)

Rinse beans twice, discard bad ones. Put in a large, heavy pot,
3-4 qt.size. Add water, ham and sausage. Set uncovered on a burner
at medium heat. While the beans are soaking and warming, chop and
add the scallions, bell pepper, celery and onions. Add thyme and
bay leaves.(I don't use bay leaves and it's still good) When mixture
boils, reduce heat and cover. Stir every 20-30 minutes for 3 hours.
Then, with a wooden spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the
side of the pot. If they don't mash easily, try again after 1/2
hour. 40 minutes after mashing beans, taste and season with cayenne.
Cook Ladle over rice and serve. The vegetables cook away to nothing
- the mashed beans thicken the sauce to a creamy consistency. Even
better warmed the next day, and it freezes well.


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