Well, my visit to New Orleans was very productive and great fun. It was hot, but not nearly as hot as I feared it might be. Thanks to some very unusual meteorological anomaly, it was actually hotter in New York than in New Orleans the week I was away. I ran into Paul Prudhomme in front of his restaurant. We met seventeen years ago at the Fancy Food Show in New York (“Chocolate Lady!” he shouted, “Where’s the chocolate?”). He didn’t remember, of course, and he has slimmed down so radically I almost didn’t recognize him either. I do hope he is enjoying the best health.
This recipe was a bit of a seat of the pants improvisation to make something inspired by my Louisiana sojourn and use as many of this week’s greens from my CSA as possible. It falls somewhere on the spectrum between Jambalaya and tsholnt (chulent). I bet you didn’t know such a spectrum even existed. I will be trying variations to bring this recipe a little closer to something recognizably Cajun, perhaps adding celery and green peppers, but this first attempt turned out to be so delicious I need to record it anyway. This is wonderful the day it is made, and a little better every day after that as long as you have some. If you want to divide the recipe in half to make a more manageable amount, that should be fine. Other herbal hybrids are to be found at Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Joanna at Joanna’s Food.
1 pound (about 2 cups) Camellia brand red beans (or other red beans)
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon kosher salt
5 garlic scapes, cut into 1-inch lengths, or tops of green onion
olive oil (be very liberal)
2 large onions, diced
1 28-ounce can of tomatoes (I used Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes), crushed
1 pound oyster mushrooms, broken up
radish or Japanese turnip greens from 1 or 2 bunches of radishes or Japanese turnips (6 to 12 ounces chopped leaves),
1 bunch mustard greens (about 6 ounces chopped leaves)
1 pound (about 2 cups) brown popcorn rice
a bit more salt
1 ½ teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 or more teaspoons Cajun spice mix from Kitchen Witch or other seasoning
Crystal brand Louisiana hot sauce
Soak the beans overnight. Drain them and put them in a pot or slow-cooker with salt, bay leaves, garlic scapes, peppercorns, and water to cover. Cook to a satiny creaminess. This took about two and a half hours for me.
Meanwhile heat oil in a deep kettle, and cook the onions. Break up the oyster mushrooms. Leave the caps whole, and dice the stems. Add mushrooms to the onions and cook until deeply fragrant. Add the rice, greens, and tomatoes, and crumble in the seasonings. Stir and cook for a few minutes and add 2 quarts of water. Continue cooking, stirring now and then, until the rice is almost done. You may need to add more water. I am afraid I did not keep track this time of how much water was needed. Add the beans and their liquor and cook slowly until perfect.
Labels: better a dinner of herbs כּל־עשׂבֿ