The past few months (since my last February post https://thecreoleflamingo.com/2017/02/11/new-cookware-set/) has been filled with overcoming sinus colds, applying for mortgage loans, working with lenders, getting approved for a loan, and house hunting that led to me and the fiance closing on our new home last Friday. Then recently, we just moved from our rental house to the new house on Monday. I am very relieved that this will be our final move for years to come. After a year of living together in our rental house, we decided that it was time for us to make one of the biggest steps in our lives of becoming first-time home owners. We both learned that applying for a mortgage and finding the right lenders was very challenging and a stressful process. However, I’m thankful that it is over and I can start testing out new recipes and cooking home cooked meals in the new house.
Today, was another unpacking day. However, for the first time in all of my moving adventures my ten-year old fur baby Phoebe is getting very acquainted with her new home. Phoebe is an introvert cat and very observant about “exploring” her new indoor surroundings. In the past after a move to a new place (when it was just me), it would usually take her a month or so to feel comfortable in her new environment. Well, I guess with me being home all this week it has helped her transition to the new house. I think she loves her new home! We are in a quiet neighborhood and a plus is that she has plenty of room inside to run, play and looking at the birds outside.
The past couple of weeks we did not do much for grocery shopping. Therefore, we consumed a lot of restaurant and fast food especially during moving weekend. That was so unhealthy for the both of us. I always say that there is nothing like a home cooked meal to feed the soul! So, I decided to do just that by cooking us a home cooked meal.
My thought was to cook a big pot of red beans while I work around the new house unpacking boxes and moving things around. My gosh, red beans and rice is one of those dishes that you can cook in a big stock pot for hours or in a crock pot. Here is a little history of cooking red beans and rice that stemmed from south Louisiana. This is where the natives, especially Cajuns and Creoles would cook and make a meal out of red beans and rice on Mondays. Since this day was considered a laundry and cleaning out the house day. Louisiana natives would always cook a large amount of food in stock pots to have enough to feed family or visitors. So, cooking a large pot of dry red beans with salt meat, ham hocks or smoked sausage over rice was enough to feed plenty. Red beans was one of those type of dishes that you could cook on low heat for up to 8-hours which allowed time to do household chores. Every time I cook red beans and rice it reminded me when I was a kid growing up in south Louisiana. When my aunts or close friends to the family would babysit me, my cousins or neighborhood kids. These women would cook a big stock pot of red beans with either sausage or ham hocks while overseeing us and taking care of the household duties. Also, I was a very picky eater growing up but I never turned down a big plate of red beans. The cultural history is one of the reasons why I love eating red beans and rice so much.
Here, I also made smothered pork chops with gravy on top of the red beans and rice. I think that eating red beans and rice without meat is a great vegetarian meal, but if you are like me who just need top it off with some meat. If you like some spicy heat to your red beans, dab some of that Tabasoco on top to make it more delicious.
Creole Red Beans & Rice
1 lb. Dry Red Kidney Beans
1/2 lb. Ham Hock, Smoked Sausage or Andouille Sausage (optional)
8 – 10 cups Cold Water
1 Onion, chopped
1 Garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp. Celery, chopped
2 Bell peppers (green & red), chopped
2 Tsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
2 Tbsp. Onion Powder
Salt & Pepper or Creole Seasoning
Chopped Green Onions, garnish
Soak dry red kidney beans overnight. Rinse and sort beans for any debris from package. Place beans in a stock pot or dutch oven, cover with 8-10 cups cold water. Bring to a boil on medium heat. Once beans start to boil, uncover lid, reduce temperature to medium-low. Stir well. Add chopped smoked sausage or ham hocks to beans. Stir occasionally while beans are getting tender. For creamier red beans, using a large and long spoon mash them on the side of the pot. Continue to stir the beans and add a 1/2 cup of water if needed while cooking. Add your seasonings, chopped onions, chopped garlic, chopped celery and bell peppers. Add the 2 tsp. of sugar. Stir well and cover. Allow seasonings to cook low with beans. Once tender, you are done. Serve over rice. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Sidenote: Allow yourself time during the day to cook red beans over a stovetop. It usually takes up to 8 hours to make the best red beans and rice. The same cooking process can be used to prepare red beans in a slow cooker. This way, you can set it, add all of your ingredients (including your meat) and let it do it’s thing.
Smothered Pork Chops and Gravy
4 Boneless Pork Chops
1 Onion, chopped
1 Garlic, chopped
1 Celery stalk, chopped
2 Bell peppers (green and red), chopped
1 Tbsp. Flour
1 cup Water or Vegetable broth/stock
Salt & Pepper or Creole Seasonings
Green onions, chopped
Rinse chops under cold water. Place aside. Using paper towels, pat dry on both sides. Season with salt and pepper or Creole seasoning. Using a cast iron skillet, pour Canola or Extra Virgin olive oil around the skillet. Heat skillet for a minute on medium-high heat. Place four of the chops in skillet. Sear them for two minutes on both sides. Remove the chops and place aside. In same skillet add some more oil, then flour. Keep temperature at medium. Pour flour with oil to make gravy. Continue stirring to get a thick consistency. Add chopped onions, celery, garlic and bell peppers. Stir and add water or vegetable broth/stock to skillet. Place chops back into skillet. Reduce temperature, cover with lid. Allow chops to cook for up to 1 1/2 or 2-hours for tenderness. Check on the chops after an hour of cooking. Using tongs, turn the chops over. Take a large spoon and cover with gravy and onions. Cover skillet with lid on low heat. Chops are ready when tender. Garnish with chopped green onions.
Vanessa, The Creole Flamingo