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Big taste on a budget


Cooking on a budget doesn’t have to mean cooking plain, boring food. In fact, there’s a Louisiana tradition that serves up big flavor and big servings without big cost.

Red beans and rice is the traditional Monday supper in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. After a weekend of bountiful eating, Monday was a day to cut back on the spending and eat on a budget. A while back, Monday was also wash day, and the beans could simmer all day on the back burner of the stove without a whole lot of attention. When the laundry was done, so were the beans.

Nowadays, it’s the custom for almost everyone, including people who never do their own laundry, to enjoy red beans and rice every Monday. The beans are soaked overnight and often combined with a meat-based stock. As funds permit, andouille or kielbasa sausage can be added as a final ingredient.

Just as with gumbo and jambalaya, almost every family and restaurant makes their own version of red beans. Internationally renowned Chef Paul Prudhomme’s recipe is a bit creamier than some and is seasoned with his Magic Seasoning Blends, a line of all natural (Kosher supervised) herbs and spices.

This recipe keeps well, and is just as good a couple of days later. Makes about 7 cups, enough for 4 generous servings over rice

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Monday Red Beans
Day 1: Add enough water to beans to cover them by 3 or 4 inches and soak overnight in the refrigerator.
1/2 pound dried red kidney beans
About 10 cups of water, in all
3 pounds small ham hocks
1 1/4 cups finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup finely chopped green peppers
3 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Magic Pepper Sauce
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Meat Magic