Now I know ya'll thought this might be my first post, but I had to wait until a Monday when I had time to cook (actually a Sunday) this savory dish that is traditionally served on Mondays in N'Awlins. The story behind Red Beans and Rice being served on Mondays is back in the day, Monday was wash day. Dinner needed to be something that could cook all day on the stove and didn't need to be watched too closely. Also, beans and rice was an economical dish and after whooping it up for Sunday dinner, I guess people needed to be a bit more conservative in the beginning of the week but not economical on taste. This is a staple for our family even if are 600 and some odd miles from New Orleans. This is a keeper!
Red Beans and Rice - Soak 1 pound of red kidney beans overnight in cold water in a large bowl. This will greatly reduce the cooking time of the beans. Soaking will soften the beans. When you check the beans in the morning you will note they have plumped up, just add cold water to cover the beans until you are ready to start cooking. In a large heavy pot add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot brown off 1 lb. of smoked pork sausage, remove from pot and set aside. Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter, then add 1 onion chopped, 2 ribs celery chopped, 4 cloves garlic minced, and 1/2 lb. smoked cubed ham (optional). Saute approximately 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are wilted. Add smoked sausage and beans. Blend well with vegetables and cook 2-3 minutes. Add enough cold water to cover beans by approximately 2 inches and add 2 bay leaves and 2 teaspoons dried sweet basil. Bring to a rolling boil and allow to cook 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. Reduce heat to simmer and cook approximately 1 hour or until beans are tender. Stir occasionally, beans will settle at the bottom of the pot. Add 3 tablespoons chopped parsley and 2 green onions, chopped. Once beans are cooked season to taste with salt (very important do not add salt until beans are soft, adding salt before hand will make beans hard) and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Use a spoon and mash approximately 1/3 of the beans against the side of the pot to create a creamy gravy. Once the beans are tender and creamy, they are ready to be served over hot white rice. This is one of those dishes that tastes better if it is cooked a day ahead of time.