Monday, March 31, 2014

Wash Day

For most people Mondays's are the dreaded start of another work week, but for our ancestors Monday's were  "wash day".   Without our modern conveniences it would have taken the entire day to complete the laundry and a hungry family would still have been waiting at days end.

Red beans and rice has been Monday dinner in New Orleans since the time of Bienville.  Traditionally, the ladies of the house would put on a pot of red beans to cook all day while they were busy with hand washing and line-drying linens.  It was a meal that required very little hands-on attention, yet was economical and substantial.

While Monday's may no longer traditional be "wash day", red beans and rice will always be welcomed at any Southern table.

There are many recipes available, often calling for The Trinity, but I believe this original method to still be the best: no celery or sausage. While Cajun cooking is often thought of as quite spicy, these red beans are prepared on the mild side with a bottle of hot sauce nearby....a few dashes may give you the pep you need to finish all of that laundry!

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
2 Tablespoons of bacon grease
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/4 pound salt pork, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon Salt, plus more to taste
4 cups hot cooked rice
Hot pepper sauce

Wash and pick over beans.  Place the beans in a large pot and cover with water to soak overnight.
The next day, in a skillet, saute the onion and garlic in the bacon grease until the onion is translucent.
Take care to not burn the garlic or it will taste bitter.
Drain the soak water and cover with fresh.
Add salt pork and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.  Simmer over medium-low heat for several hours.
Add more boiling water to cooking beans as needed.
When beans are tender, mash some of them against the side of the pot to create a creamy texture.
Add salt to taste and serve with hot rice.

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