King Daddy wanted red beans and rice. I try to cater to King Daddy’s food whims as they occur as I am a good wife. Most of the time. And when K.D. asks for red beans and rice I know that he really means “in the style of Popeye’s.”

Fast food has very little to offer to the American table, but Popeye’s red beans and rice definitely qualifies. Even the Great Peoples of New Orleans, where red beans and rice are a religion, understand that the smoky creamy version that Popeye’s makes is the standard by which all red beans and rice must be judged.

If you’ve never used a smoked ham hock, just take a deep breath. It looks almost alien. But when cooked for several hours a considerable amount of tender pork shredded off the bone will reward you. If you live in the South, you can find smoked ham hocks in any grocery store. If you don’t, too bad for you. I have no substitution advice.

As to the Uncle Ben’s Ready Rice to go with the beans, as opposed to rice made from scratch, just shut up. It’s better.

Red Beans and Rice

2 tablespoons bacon fat

1 onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1 pound dried red kidney beans, soaked in water overnight and drained

1 smoked ham hock

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

Cholula hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

2 packages Uncle Ben’s Jasmine Ready Rice

Heat the bacon fat in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat and add the onion and green pepper. Saute until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are tender.

Add the beans, ham hock, bay leaves and smoked paprika. Cover with water that comes two inches above the beans. Cover and simmer for 2-3 hours until the beans are creamy, checking every now and then to make sure there’s enough water in the pot.

Remove the ham hock and shred the meat. Remove half the beans and with an immersion blender or potato masher, blend the remaining beans until creamy with a few bean chunks left intact. Add the beans back to the pot as well as the ham hock meat. Season with the hot sauce, salt and pepper.

Prepare the rice according to package directions. Mound the rice in a bowl, ladle the beans around the side and garnish with sliced green onions.



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