Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Louisiana Gentlemen Recipes – Luke

Recipes were included as lagniappe in the five books (plus a novella) of the Louisiana Gentlemen series, published 1998 – 2002. Since that time, I've had hundreds of letters and emails about KANE, LUKE, ROAN, CLAY, WADE and ADAM -- the majority from people who had lost track of the books but wanted the recipes again! Posting them here on the blog will make them available once more for everyone. Slight adjustments have been made to the originals for clarity and consistency.

This old Louisiana Cajun favorite was often served on Monday, or wash day, since it could be quickly thrown together and left to simmer without close attention. The version given is the one I use, though there are as many recipes for the dish as there are cooks in Louisiana. What usually happens is that the contents are adjusted according to the likes and dislikes of the family or to the ingredients in the cook’s kitchen.  If you’d like to cook Louisiana style, just take this recipe as a starting point and add your own touches!

1 pound package red kidney beans
1 pound smoked ham, cubed
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced
2 – 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 - 2 teaspoons Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning, to taste
1 teaspoon hickory smoke flavoring (optional)
Salt to taste

Wash beans and place in a heavy, 4 qt sauce pot.  Add ham and cover with water.  Add garlic, bell pepper, onion, celery, hot pepper, and Italian seasoning.  Simmer three to four hours, or until beans are tender and bean liquid has thickened to the consistency of soup.  Adjust salt to taste.  Serve immediately over cooked rice. Serves 6 – 8.

See recipe for cooking rice below.

·         Salt should be added after the beans have cooked as ham is often very salty and salt is included in Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning as well.

·         1 small hot pepper, minced (or ¼ t. dried red pepper flakes) and a pinch or two of Italian seasoning may be substituted for Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning. Tony's contains red pepper, black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and chili powder if you'd care to make your own seasoning blend. 

·        Canned red beans or pinto beans may also be used to cut the cooking time required for the recipe. I sometimes use Mexican-style re-fried beans for even greater speed.

·         This dish freezes well. Make be garnished with chopped shallots

Many cooks in Louisiana use electric rice pot for this and other rice dishes. I used one for years, but recently began to steam my rice, Chinese style, in an electric steamer. Regardless of how you go about it, the idea is to produce tender rice with every grain separate. The cooking method used by old-fashioned cooks like Granny May (from Kane) is:

4 cups water
2 cups long grain rice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Place water, salt and butter in a heavy pot with a tightly fitting lid and bring to a rolling boil. Add rice. Stir quickly with a fork, and place lid on pot. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes without removing the lid. Fluff with a fork. Let sit, covered with lid, until ready to serve.


Since publishing her first book at age 27, New York Times bestselling and award-winning author Jennifer Blake has gone on to write over 65 historical and contemporary novels in multiple genres. She brings the story-telling power and seductive passion of the South to her stories, reflecting her 8th-generation Louisiana heritage. Jennifer lives with her husband in northern Louisiana.

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