Friday is for Food: Red Beans and Rice

I'm doing Community Bible Study this year and every month at our monthly group luncheons we exchange recipes with one another. It is so fun! Last month I was given (and tasted) this recipe and it is so good! I tried it myself this week and Daniel loved it. Always a plus. So here it is.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound small, dried red beans, rinsed and sorted
3 tablespoons of bacon grease (I didn't have any so I used olive oil)
1/4 to 1 cup of chopped ham (If you have any. Again, I didn't have any of this and it tasted fine)
1 1/2 cups yellow onion, chopped
3/4 cups celery, chopped
3/4 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh parsley, chopped (I used dried parsley and used less)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme (1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme)
1 pound of smoked sausage cut in 1 inch pieces
1 pound of ham hocks (I didn't know what this was and didn't have time to look for it, so I didn't use it and it tasted fine)
3 tablespoons garlic, chopped
10 cups of chicken stock or water
4 cups of cooked rice (I used brown rice because I like it. But any rice would be fine)

-Soak beans covered in water in pot (8 hours or overnight). Drain and set aside
-In a large pot, heat the bacon grease (or oil) over medium high heat
-Add ham, onions, celery, and bell peppers
-Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring until veggies are soft
-Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage and ham hocks. Cook for 5 minutes
-Add garlic, beans, and stock or water. Bring to a boil.
-Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender and starting to thicken. About 2 hours. (If beans become too thick and dry, add more water about 1/4 cup at a time).
-Remove from heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot.
-Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy - 15-30 minutes.
-Remove frm heat and remove bay leaves
-Serve over fresh rice. Add salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste. I don't think it needed more salt (and I love me some salt), but it's up to you.

Enjoy! It's a little involved but so worth it! I served it with some garlic bread.