As much as I love visiting local Illinois Farms and chatting it up about farming practices and animal welfare, you might be surprised to know that I’m not much of a cook. In fact, when I asked Carla Hall, co-host of The Chew, Top Chef Contestant and mastermind behind the following recipe what tips she had for someone who despises cooking, she looked past me and stared squarely at Mr. Nevels and declared that I should “find someone to cook for [me]!” Unfortunately, Mr. Nevels is 10x’s worse at cooking than I, AND he’s extremely slow. Dinner meals are easily transformed into midnight snacks when he’s on cooking duty.
But this recipe here is totally legitimate and easy enough for even the most novice cook.
After Carla and I had a good laugh, she proceeded to encourage me to make lots of crock-pot stews and casseroles to shorten my time in the kitchen and guarantee left-overs! So without further ado, here’s Carla’s recipe for Red Beans and Rice, complete with Ham Hocks, that will knock your socks off and pay some serious homage to the Hog Farmers out there who’s hogs make cold weather comfort foods Ã¼ber tasty! Everything is better with pork!
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup finely diced celery
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ham hock, skin discarded, meat cut into 1/2 inch chunks, bone reserved (I actually just tossed the whole thing in the crock-pot sans chopping. The crock-pot makes it super tender.)
1 fresh or dried bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups Chicken Stock or unsalted chicken broth
Two 15 ounce cans or red beans, preferably small, rinsed and drained (I actually soaked dried beans overnight and cooked them in the crock-pot in lieu of the canned versions. If you choose this method skip to instruction #4.)
White Rice (Brown for you health-nuts)
1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ham hock meat and bone, bay leaf, thyme, chile flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
2. Add the broth and vinegar and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. You want the beans really mushy and soft.
3. Discard the ham hock bone and the bay leaf. Transfer 1/4 cup of the beans to a small bowl and mash them. Stir back into the pan, and simmer until thickened. Serve over rice.
4. OR you can disregard all of the above instructions and throw everything into a crock-pot with dried beans and let it cook all-day. The scent will have your family thinking that you’ve been slaving in the kitchen all day for them.Â Steam up some rice and add some cornbread on the side and you’re Mother/Wife of the year…
…or at least until the next meal you’re charged with cooking.
What’s your go-to crock-pot meal for cold weather days?
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