1 16-ounce package red kidney beans
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 leftover ham bone, 1 1/2 cups meat left on
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or 2 or more tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
6 cups hot cooked rice
1. Rinse beans in running cold water; discard any stones or shriveled beans. Put into large bowl and cover with 2” water; let soak overnight, at least 8 hours.
2. Three or four hours before serving, drain beans and rinse; place in 8-quart Dutch oven, cover with water, and heat to boiling, uncovered. Skim all the foam that rises to the top. Add bay leaf.
3. Meanwhile, in 1-quart saucepan over medium heat, in hot olive oil, cook onion and garlic until tender, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
4. Stir onion and garlic into beans with all the remaining ingredients, except rice.
5. Return to boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 2 hours or until beans are tender and mixture is slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.
6. Remove ham bone to cutting board; cut meat into bite-size chunks. Return cut-up ham to beans, discard bone. Serve spooned over rice.
Serve with greens, cornbread, and slices of sharp cheese. Also goes well with grilled fish.
Recipe says it makes 8 main dish servings, but for us it’s only about six, probably because I don’t ever have a hambone.
Pre-soaking the beans, discarding the soak-water, and skimming the foam are absolutely necessary if you don’t want unpleasant side-effects from eating dried beans.
If you don’t have a hambone, you can use a quart of chicken stock for part of the cooking water. If you don’t have real stock made from bones, add a packet of unflavored gelatin to a cup of cold water, stir, and add to cooking water. The gelatin from the bones makes more protein available, and really does make the meal stick to your ribs longer than it would without it.
The veggies and seasonings except the bay leaf can be added to the last half-hour of cooking – I prefer it that way, but adding them at the beginning means you don’t have to remember to do anything else to them later on.
I like to add a generous spoonful of gumbo filé after putting the beans into a serving dish. It helps thicken it and adds a little je ne sais quoi.