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New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried red beans (kidney beans are okay too)
1 1/2 quarts cold water
2 very meaty smoked pork hocks
1/2 pound hot sausage, sliced thick (optional)
1 bunch green onions, including tops
1 green pepper
2 stalks celery
3 medium-sized onions
1/8 tsp. ground thyme
4 bay leaves
Cayenne pepper or Tabasco sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice

Rinse kidney beans twice, discard any that look bad and soak
overnight in a large bowl of water. The next day, drain and rinse
the beans, then put them in a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot. Add water,
ham, and sausage. Cook uncovered on a burner at medium heat.
While the beans are warming, finely chop and add green onions,
green pepper, celery and onions. Then add the thyme and bay leaves.

When the mixtures boils, reduce heat and cover. Stir every 20 to
30 minutes for three hours. (Take pork hocks out when they start
to pull away from the bone, cool, and take meat off the bone.)
With a wooden spoon, mash about one-fourth of the beans against
the side of the pot. If they don't mash easily, try again after
another half an hour. Add the meat from the pork hocks back into
the bean mixture and allow all to continue simmering.

Forty minutes after mashing the beans, taste and season with cayenne
pepper or Tabasco sauce. (Don't use too much, the flavor should
be subtle.) Cook another 30 minutes while preparing rice. It's
hard to believe, but all the vegetables cook away to nothing and
the mashed beans create a creamy sauce. Ladle beans and meat over
rice to serve.


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