Creole Monday (Wash Day)
The making of the real deal – Red Beans and Rice
Part 1 of 2
The following excerpt is from a new cookbook I am currently working on. Enjoy!
“This is a classic dish treasured just about everywhere and especially beloved to the Creole cooks here in the south. We find various bean and rice dishes all over the world but this recipe comprise only the flavorful recipes using beans, rice and spices inspired from the Creole kitchens. The most favored bean is the southern Louisiana red bean, a milder and smaller version of the red kidney bean. As for rice, most often the long grain variety is preferred.
Like many Creole dishes, the spices from Latin and Caribbean countries contribute to the flavor that makes this dish so agreeable. Spices such as bay leaves, thyme and cayenne pepper are pretty much always in the recipes along with the flavors using the trinity: onion, bell pepper and celery.
To the purist, as I learned from my dear friend Bob Handley, the true Louisianan way of cooking red beans is with pickled pork. The pork is a stable in this dish stemming from the days before refrigeration and commercial curing plants. Many like cooking red beans with a ham bone, the one left over from Sunday’s dinner, while others use the likes of sausage, bacon or ham hocks. Cooking red beans on Monday, back in years past, gave the servants time to do other duties, like wash clothes. Therefore, for many still today, Monday is washday and also red beans and rice day.”
So lets start today with the making of the pickled pork. Next week, we will actually make the Red Beans and Rice dish. First, let us get to pickling. Like all recipes, and there are numerous ones, most all use at least a half-dozen of the same ingredients. I have tried several recipes and came up with this one, which is my favorite.
Pickled meat is the soul of red beans & rice dishes
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups white vinegar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, peeled and cracked
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons mustard seed
6 whole allspice
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 bay leaf
12 whole black peppercorns
1 medium onion, chopped
2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch sections or cubes
Combine all of the ingredients except the onion and pork in a non-reactive saucepan set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Place the pork into a 1-gallon zip top bag and add the cooled pickling liquid along with the onion. Remove as much air as possible. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days turning the bag occasionally. Use within 2 weeks or remove the pork from the brine and freeze in individual bags.
Note: Some folks use spare rib tips, which is fine, but then you have to deal with the bones. Pickled Pork is available at many southern and Cajun grocers and here online. Pork photo from the Cook’s Thesaurus
Next week we will use this to make my delectable Red Beans recipe. Ya’ll come back now!