The Big Easy

You want to kick it up a notch this Mardi Gras. But you’re no Emeril in the kitchen.

Susan and Dillard Faulk, owners of the island’s only Cajun/Creole restaurant, A Taste of the Bayou on Kapahulu Avenue, offer this easy take on the New Orleans staple, red beans and rice. Add shrimp or chicken if you like and − bam! – it’s a fast meal.

A Taste of the Bayou’s Red Beans and Rice
Serves 8 -10

1 lb red beans (not kidney beans)
2-1/2 cups onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
1 lb ham hocks, smoked turkey drumettes, or any smoked meat
4 bay leaves
2 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp black pepper
8 cups water (add more water during cooking if necessary)
Salt to taste

1. Soak the beans overnight.
2. Place the meat and all of the ingredients, except the beans and salt, in a large pot with 8 cups water.
3. Cook over medium heat until meat is tender.
4. Remove meat from the pot. Keep broth on side.
5. Drain the beans and add to the pot with the broth.
6. Cook the beans at a simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Stir the beans to prevent sticking, more so at the end of cooking time.
7. While the beans are cooking, allow the meat to cool. Remove meat from bones.
8. When beans are done, add the meat to the pot of beans and stir.
9. Add salt to taste.
10. Serve over white rice.

Taste the rest of the Cajun specialties, like shrimp etouffee, jambalaya and gumbo at A Taste of the Bayou, 740 Kapahulu Avenue, 808.732.2229, Open tonight from 5:30 to 10 p.m.