Louisiana Red Beans Recipe

Serves 8.

1 lb. dried small red beans, soaked
3 or 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 1/2 tsp. crumbled dried thyme
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 hot chile peppers, finely diced
About 4 c. water
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb. smoked ham, preferably with bone, or 1 smoked turkey wing
1 tsp. salt, if needed

Rinse the beans, cover with cold water and soak at least 2 hours. When ready to cook, rinse the soaked beans again with cold water and set aside.

Chop the fresh thyme or crumble the dried herb. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. Add the onion, garlic, pepper and thyme. Sauté over low heat for 4 or 5 minutes. Add the water, black pepper, bay leaf and ham or turkey wing. Reduce the heat, cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

Remove the ham from the pot and cut the meat into small pieces. Set aside.

Add the soaked beans to the pot and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to very low. Return the ham and the bone to the pot.

Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until the beans are tender and creamy. (If the beans become too dry, heat 1 cup of water and add as needed.)

When the beans are tender, remove a cup or so of the beans from the pot. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir the mashed beans back into the pot. Stir in the salt, if needed, and simmer the beans for 15 minutes longer. Serve the beans over hot rice.