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Bayou Red Beans and Rice Casserole

We loved this prepared with jasmine rice. It has a tender, creamy texture and an almost sweet flavor that is a wonderful complement to the smoky ham and spicy sausage.

2 cups dried red kidney beans, sorted and rinsed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
8 ounces sliced chorizo or kielbasa, or hot Italian sausage, removed from casings and crumbled
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 large green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces smoked ham, coarsely chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, crumbled
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 to 3 cups freshly cooked rice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Soak beans overnight in water to cover. Drain beans, reserving soaking liquid. Measure liquid and if necessary, add water to equal 4 cups.

In Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add chorizo and cook until brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and reserve. Remove all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pan.

Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until tender, about 5 minutes.

Add reserved beans, soaking liquid, ham, bay leaves, thyme, marjoram and red pepper. Bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until beans are tender, about 1 hour and 15 to 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaves.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish.

Drain beans, reserving 1 cup liquid. Put beans and liquid in prepared baking dish. Stir in reserved chorizo, rice, vinegar and salt to taste.

Cover and bake 30 to 40 minutes, until heated and bubbly. Serve with hot pepper sauce.

Makes 6 to 8 servings or up to 10 servings as part of a larger spread.

Adapted from Reader's Digest
"Kitchen Secrets"

Sunday, February 25, 2001

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