For a change of pace, I offer you this light post today. Part of me still can't believe I allowed myself to publish this...
Over Christmas break, my family found a wonderful little Creole/Cajun joint in the town where we had gathered for the holidays. How excited we were to find this place served Gambino’s bread and the familiar recipes of home! Over the years, I have often visited restaurants that brag of New Orleans cooking only to find that the cook is still a little unschooled in the details that should make the dish authentic. This restaurant, however, managed by a gentleman from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, made us and our tummies feel right at home.
Listed on the menu were red beans and rice, a favorite. “We de-gas our beans!” boasted the menu. I raised an eyebrow and summoned the waitress who readily confessed the restaurant’s method. Two of us volunteered to be test subjects. Some days later in my own kitchen, with the memory of that wonderful meal and having been living proof of a gas-free aftermath, I wrapped an apron about my waist, and employed the restaurant’s secret weapon: a potato.
After soaking two pounds of beans overnight, I eased the full pot onto the stove and fired up a burner. When the water reached a full rollicking boil, in went the sliced hunks of the potato, and eventually the holy trinity (bell pepper, onion, celery), sausage, and seasonings. I mashed a few cups of beans in the pot for the right texture and cooked the beans down until the flavors mingled pleasantly. That evening, as the beans cooled, I retrieved the cooked potato chunks and put them aside.
I confess that I am a fallen Catholic, as so many of us New Orleanians are. Unable to resist the temptation of the well-seasoned and soft potato, I succumbed to its sinful deliciousness. Unfortunately, every sin has a consequence, and I spent the evening apologizing to family. Lesson learned: when employing this de-gas tactic, DO NOT EAT THE POTATO. The potato will show no mercy.
Interestingly enough, a friend from across the country just sent me an article about the oil spill in the Gulf. Apparently, methane-eating bacteria have cleaned up the methane deposit that threatened the waters. Now, just where could I find some of that for the next red bean emergency?