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Red Beans and Rice


Rinse large, red, kidney beans in a sieve, and cover the bottom of a 6-quart saucepan with a pound of beans.
Cover with 2 to 3 inches of water. Add 2 to 3 chopped onions, celery, garlic (to taste), salt (to taste), cayenne pepper (to taste) fresh if available.
Add one bay leaf broken in half.
Bring to a simmer reduce heat.
Simmer for about 3 hours, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.
About ½ way through, add meat if you prefer. Suggestions are, sliced, smoked sausage, ham, or tasso.
The last 30 minutes of cooking, add whatever herbs you want. Suggestions are fresh or dried basil, or thyme. I like to use a little bit of ground fennel seed.
Toward the end of the cooking, if you mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a large spoon it will bring out a rich gravy.
Depending on how much water you put in, it will come out thick in which case you can serve it on a plate. If you make it more soupy (I like it that way) you may serve it in a bowl.

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