Sunday, November 21, 2004

Dr. McCoy's Red Beans & Rice

I suppose that, technically speaking, I'm a Trekkie. (I like the Original Series, and my favorite of the new ones is DS9.)

One of the first cookbooks I owned (and still have) is The Official Star Trek Cooking Manual, "compiled" by Mary Ann Piccard (no apparent relation to Jean-Luc) from the files of Christine Chapel. It was published by Bantam Books (which had the Trek books franchise before Pocket/Simon & Schuster) in 1978.

Bearing in mind that this was written before the movies and subsequent TV shows, it's not a bad read as long as you make allowances: remember that because the author is a "fan," it's "fan fiction," and remember that she's using the point of view of Christin Chapel, who wasn't the strongest of characters in the Original Series.

That having been said, the book holds a couple of advantages over the second Star Trek cookbook, the one by Ethan "Hi, I'm Voyager's Neelix" Phillips and William J. Birnes. The first is a question of scope; Phillips and Birnes seem to have forgotten that not all of us live in Southern California and that some of the ingredients they list for their recipes aren't universally accessible.

The second is something I wish more cookbooks would do, especially if you're using it to teach someone else to cook. Piccard also lists the equipment to be used in making the dishes, which helps a lot in terms of knowing what you need.

The following recipe appears in the book, but doesn't appear in the Original Series. It is, however, a very good recipe, particularly apt for the oncoming winter months. Red beans and rice is of course a traditional Southern dish, which is why Piccard claimed it to be among our Georgia doctor's favorites.

I've modified it just a touch. Piccard recommended using half a package of bacon; I find that three slices work nicely. She also, when using canned beans, puts them in canned juice and all; I find that that's a good way towards recreating a rather infamous scene from the movie Blazing Saddles. That's why I've added a different liquid, in this case beer, to put more liquid into the stewing. This recipe will yield 6-8 servings, depending on appetite.

Red Beans & Rice

3 slices side bacon, cut into matchsticks
1/2 lb. (250 g) ham, diced
1 large onion, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped (include leaves if you have them)
2 large carrots, sliced thin
1 can condensed beef broth or consommé (use low-salt if you can get it)
1-2 bay leaves (depending on size)
fresh-ground black pepper
2 19 oz. (540 ml) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 355 ml can beer (Budweiser or microbrew from the South)
2 tbsp. cornstarch

1. In a large pot over medium heat, fry the bacon until a fair amount of fat melts out. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook until soft.

2. Add the ham, beef broth, beans, and beer. (You may not need the entire can, just enough to cover everything.) . Bring to a boil.

3. Add seasonings to taste, stir to blend, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer at least 1 hour.

4. Blend the cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water and add to the pot as a thickener. Cook about 5 more minutes.

This is traditionally ladled over plates of long-grain rice (1 cup cooked per serving), and accompanied with a green salad.


At 9:10 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

I work part time with a caterer and the chef made red beans and rice - absolutely wonderful! In Jamaica we have "rice and peas" which is basically the same thing but I'm trying your recipe later. I'll tell you how it turned out.

At 9:11 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

OOps - probably should have identified myself in the previous post.



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