Some recipes are best labeled as family traditions and this is definitely one of them. My mom always makes this after we have ham because it's the best and most delicious way to use up those leftovers. The original recipe for this dish came from a plate my Nana had and we haven't changed it in all the years it's been made, with one exception: Mom and I add red pepper flakes. It just isn't red beans and rice if it isn't spicy, right? So, my suggestion to you if you have leftover ham from Christmas: make this. Make it now! And serve it with cornbread. You'll love it, I promise!
Mom's Red Beans and Rice
*From Nana and Mom
1 pound red beans
1 quart water (32 ounces)
1/4 cup celery leaves (just cut off the tops of a bunch of celery and chop)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce (a couple of shakes)
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1 onion (or sub 1/2-1 tablespoon onion powder)
2 cups chopped or shredded ham
Place beans in water and soak overnight or until the beans have expanded. Remove all unexpanded beans and place the rest in a large pot or dutch oven. Pour in the water and add onion or onion powder.
Add tabasco sauce.
Then add red pepper flakes.
Stir in salt and add the chopped celery tops.
Finally, add in the ham.
Stir well and simmer on low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until beans are softened.
With a potato masher, mash the beans until the mixture is thickened. If it seems too thick, add in a little more water.
Cook on low heat for another 1/2 hour or until you're ready to eat, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn. Serve over white rice with cornbread and enjoy!