1# DRY light kidney beans
3 Tbs red wine vinegar (preferred) or regular vinegar
3 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
2 green (bell) peppers, finely chopped
4 stalks celery finely chopped
1 bunch green onions finely chopped
4 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
8 cups good chicken stock (I've used two 10.5 oz cans Campbell's condensed chicken broth cut with water when out of homemade stock with good results).
1# ham steak trimmed of fat and finely diced
1 pkg of 2-4 thin smoked pork cutlets (less than 1#) finely diced, also in your pre-cooked meat case.
1/2-1 # smoked Polish sausage, finely diced
2-3 good sized smoked ham hocks (very important-this really makes the dish).
1/4-1/2 tsp ground thyme or 1 tsp whole thyme
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
4-5 shots real Tabasco sauce
1/2-1 tsp black pepper
1/4-1/2 white pepper
5 large bay leaves
OK, let's make some red beans!
The night before:
Sort and clean the beans, picking out any dirt and bad beans. Rinse well. Cover in an 8 qt. stockpot with cold water. Cover with at least 4 additinal inches of water as beans will double in size overnight. Add red wine veiengar. Stir thoroughly, cover, and let sit overnight.
Have a Bloody Mary (not really, I just threw that in!)
Drain beans but do not rinse them. Add chicken stock and all vegetables. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a very low simmer. Add spices and meat. Stir well. Add additional water or stock to just cover ingredients. You want a nice low-bubbling simmer with the lid on slightly cracked. Stir every 20 minutes or so until about 2-3 pm (assumes you got this whole thing to a boil at 9-10am).
By about 2-3 pm, the ham hocks will have imparted all of the smoky flavor they can and will have shrunk considerably. Remove them from pot and set aside to cool down. Remove all bay leaves. Cut away and discard all fat from ham hocks. There won't be a lot of meat on them, but whatever's left will be delicious. Pull off what you can from the bone, dice up, and throw back in the pot.
Taste check for final spice adjustments. Doubtful you'll need any salt. Mash some beans along the side of the pot with a large wooden spoon, or, as I prefer, mash a good amount of beans on the bottom of the pot with a potatoe masher. This helps to provide the creamy texture you want. Simmer 2 more hours with the lid off, stirring occasionally. The whole kidney beans left should be really soft and tender. If not, keep at a low simmer until they are.
Serve with white rice and some good andouille sausage if there's not enough meat for you in this recipe already!
I've made this recipe dozens of times and it's always a little different, but when made for a party, there's never any left! Enjoy!