Bludso's BBQ Red Beans and Rice

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Main Dishes

 Red beans mixed with pork and sausage, served in a bowl over white rice

Our staff test kitchen tried a new version of Red Beans and Rice from the recent book, Bludso's BBQ Cookbook (Ten Speed Press, 2022). They'd made it with our Domingo Rojo beans and author Kevin Bludso's recipe.

I am always happy to try a bean dish but I knew nothing about this book or Bludso's BBQ in Compton, and I wasn't prepared to fall completely in love with this dish. I mean, doesn't the best Red Beans and Rice come from New Orleans? What do I know? Apparently, not much! Bludso's roots are in Texas, and of course, Texas is neighbors with Louisiana.

I think this is the best version I've ever had and I couldn't stop eating it. It's a spicy version but the heat comes mostly from fresh chiles and good chile powder (and possibly the sausages), so the heat source is flavorful. Bludso suggests an optional Habenero pepper in his recipe. I love the burn but for me this was perfect without it. —Steve

  • 5 quarts water, or as needed
  • 2 smoked ham hocks
  • 1⁄4 cup chicken bouillon powder, or as needed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 serrano chiles
  • 1 habanero chile (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 11⁄2 cups finely chopped white onions
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced into 1⁄4-inch-thick coins
  • 2 pounds dried small red beans or red kidney beans (like Rancho Gordo Domingo Rojo beans), rinsed and sorted
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons dark chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • Cooked extra-long-grain white rice, for serving
  • Chopped parsley for garnishing

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS

  1. In a large stockpot over high heat, combine the water, ham hocks, bouillon powder, bay leaves, serranos, and habanero (if using) and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the onions, celery, and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until all the vegetables are wilted, about 6 minutes. Set aside off the heat.
  3. When the ham hocks have been simmering for 30 minutes, taste the broth and adjust the seasoning with additional bouillon powder, if needed. Add the sausage, dried beans, garlic, chili powder, cayenne (if using), and thyme and stir well, Return to a simmer, re-cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes. Then add the vegetable mixture, cover, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the ham hocks are soft and falling apart and the beans are fully tender, about 1½ hours. Keep an eye on the water level throughout the cook and add warm water if needed to maintain the level, being careful not to add too much and dilute the broth; which should be nice and thick, like a gravy.
  4. Serve the beans with a big scoop of rice and garnish with a sprinkle of parsley.
  5. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Reprinted with permission from Bludso's BBQ Cookbook: A Family Affair in Smoke and Soul. Copyright © 2022 by Kevin Bludso. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.



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