I cannot claim to have much experience with New Orleans regional seasonings and ingredients but my friend Susan, a gifted cook in just about any genre, is especially experienced with Louisiana cooking. Add in the love and care that she puts into her dishes and you are guaranteed a fabulous meal at her house. As a young woman, she won a Red Beans and Rice cooking contest against many experienced cooks using this recipe. This recipe is the real deal and I am pleased to pass it on. You will love the finished product. Susan’s ‘Ward Winnin’ Red Beans and Rice
There are a few ingredients that may be a little difficult to find but a little advance planning can help you locate them. The first is Camellia brand red beans – you can substitute others but I am told these are the best. Since I live far away from New Orleans, I ordered two pounds of them from Amazon.com and they were here in a few days. Also, Zatarain’s Shrimp and Crab Boil might be somewhat difficult to find but most well-equipped markets carry it. Ask for it. Finally many supermarkets don’t carry ham shanks. Ham hocks, yes, but shanks no. Call around, many butcher shops carry them.
I followed the recipe to the letter but I may increase the seasonings a bit next time around for perhaps a little more heat. The recipe suggests starting with a teaspoon of salt but I didn’t add any until I saw whether the ham and sausages added saltiness. I’m glad I did – things were pretty near perfect with only a little salt and pepper added at the end. Allow yourself a minimum of 4 hours, maybe 5, to make sure everything is done and the flavors have come together. This makes a quite a lot, you could easily feed a table of 6 along with a little salad and some crusty French bread. And maybe Bananas Foster for dessert?