Pasty Braumiller's red beans, rice, and andouille sausage...
When The Motley Monk lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he happened to make the acquaintance of a couple at a cocktail party, Allen and Patsy Braumiller, with whom he became fast and long-time friends. "Baby" and "Craze" they called each other, Allen once explaining in his thick Southern dialect that he was Patsy's "Swain." To get a sense of the contours that friendship took in the ensuring decades, read The Motley Monk's homily for Allen's funeral:
After that first encounter, it was not unusual that The Motley Monk would be invited periodically to dine at the Braumiller's home in South Tulsa. Patsy is an excellent cook, specializing in Southern "comfort" food. Theirs was a much-coveted invitation and, in The Motley Monk's opinion, no one makes better red beans, rice, and andouille that does Patsy. Her crawfish etouffé is also excellent and not to be missed. The Motley Monk understands that Patsy's pecan pie is "to die" for but, The Motley Monk can't issue an opinion on the matter because he's allergic to nuts.
(As an aside, why do people not believe that people who claim to be allergic to nuts might actually be allergic to nuts? Lots of cooks have put nuts into various recipes and served them to The Motley Monk even though he has provided ample warning. Even The Motley Monk's mother used to sneak nuts into recipes, pie crusts for example, much to The Motley Monk's consternation around 3:00 a.m. The Motley Monk also happens to be allergic to synthetic iron. His mother thought The Motley Monk's metabolism too slow during the seventh grade, as was evident in weight gain. So, after consulting the physician, she purchased some iron pills and administered them to The Motley Monk immediately before dinner. Within two hours, the poor The Motley Monk was doubled up and writhing in intestinal pain on his "bed of pain." It took several hours for the situation to clear itself out, so to speak. The Motley Monk has never taken a pill with synthetic iron in it since.)
But, The Motley Monk has digressed.
Whenever The Motley Monk was to be the sole guest at the Braumiller's, Craze would always make red beans and rice, knowing how much he enjoyed that particular dish. On one such occasion several years back, The Motley Monk was able to pry Craze's recipe for red beans, rice, and andouille sausage out of her clutches.
The Motley Monk now makes Patsy's recipe at least once, if not twice, during the cold winter months. Normally, the first time is when the temperature for the day doesn't go above fifty degrees for the first time in the fall. Depending upon how much heat people like, this recipe can warm a person for an entire night!
Patsy's red beans, rice, and andouille is a pretty easy and straightforward recipe. It requires only a little bit of "time ahead" preparation, because the beans have to be soaked overnight. (Don't used canned beans!) Other than that, starting the recipe after breakfast and letting everything simmer on low during the remainder of the morning and afternoon (with a big stir here and there) is the only "work" involved in making Patsy's red beans, rice, and andouille sausage.
The first step is to slice the andouille sausage and to brown it very well. The Motley Monk cuts the sausage so that the pieces are uniformly round; some chefs argue that the sausage should be sliced on the bias. The Motley Monk doesn't know quite why, unless slicing the sausage on the bias allows for "larger" pieces of sausage in the finished product.
Browning the sausage until it looks almost burned is actually important because, as the ingredients simmer, most of what looks "burned" breaks down, adding a greater depth of flavor to the product. Also, while andouille sausage is best because of its unique spicing, andouille sausage isn't always available at the local grocery store or butcher's shop. The Motley Monk has found that smoked Polish kielbasa works well, too, with the added benefit that it's always available at the local grocery store.
The second step involves getting the "Holy Trinity" (onions, celery, and carrots) prepped, along with a goodly amount of garlic. Don't "brown" the vegetables, just "sweat" them. Once the vegetables are sweated, add all of the spices and stir a bit until they release their aromas.
It's now time to add the broth. The Motley Monk uses pork broth made from Penzy's pork soup base. No matter what broth is used, do not add salt! It can be added later when the spices are adjusted to balance the flavors. Then, add the red beans. (This time around, The Motley Monk used black beans because the red beans he thought were in the cupboard weren't. By the way, black beans work just as well. The dish just looks black.) Give everything a stir and then its time to add the pork salt (or ham hocks or ham bone or pork necks).
Readers of The Motley Monk will notice that this time around, he used some pork necks which he found at the grocery store. Pork necks provide a heap of flavor, a lot of bits of meat that, along with the sausage, adds a nice texture, and at a very cheap price. Those pictured above cost $3.19 and held a lot of excellent pork for the product.
Bring everything to a boil, cover the pot, turn stove down to low simmer, and forget about what's cooking. Just make sure to give the pot a stir every half hour or so, so that everything inside gets well-acclimated and the beans don't adhere to the bottom of the pot.
After three hours or so, the salt port (ham hocks or ham bone) need to be removed, cooled, and the bits of meat stripped from them. Chop the meat, returning it to the pot. Discard the bones. Give everything a big, stir and test the product for overall flavor, and adjust the spices as necessary, especially depending upon how much "heat" those eating the product can take.
Cover the pot, this time leaving the cover slightly ajar so that some of the water evaporates. Make sure the product simmers on low, stirring occasionally (every half hour or so).
After another three hours or so, the product will be just about ready. How to know when it's done? The "gravy" will have reduced about one half and be pretty thick, yet somewhat watery (see picture above). Use the back of a wooden spoon to crush some of the beans. This will thicken up the sauce, making it less watery. Adjust the spices again, if necessary. Cover the pot. Turn off the heat and let the product rest until it's ready to be served.
Et voilá: a very good red beans, rice, and andouille sausage courtesy of Patsy "Craze" Braumiller!
One pot provides enough for a big meal for eight because red beans, rice, and andouille sausage is filling! Be sure to save what's left over in the freezer. Warm it up in a month or so for another very good meal. Serve with warm jalapeño cornbread.
Like the idea? Here's the recipe:
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