The best red beans ever

Visualize swirled red beans. Or maybe not.

Among the fond memories I have of 2 1/2 years stationed in Gulfport, Miss., is red beans and rice.

Even though I grew up practically in Cajun country I never really came to appreciate wonderfully spicy red beans and rice until my Navy days in Gulfport during the middle 1970s. I remember Sundays you could go to many of the bars in town and could partake of free red beans and rice to accompany your beer. Not among those bars was Jim’s Lounge and Postman’s, down the street from Jim’s, where most of my Seabee friends and I hung out. I don’t know why they didn’t have free red beans and rice. Maybe because Jim, who owned both bars, was too cheap. Nonetheless, my friend Betti tended bar at Jim’s and she would invite us over to her place for what I believed was the best red beans ever.

Years after leaving Gulfport I tried to approximate the red beans I had back in my days on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I always fell short. That is, until today. I don’t know what I did right. Maybe it was the Cajun seasoning. Perhaps the ham hock or the garlic or maybe I just had good kitchen karma today. But these beans will make you slap your granny, for sure.

I did some doctoring on the photo because my beans don’t photograph well. Or maybe I don’t photograph them well. But take my word for it, after I cook some rice I will be entering culinary nirvana for awhile. I won’t say these beans are as good as Betti’s but they are the best ever that I’ve cooked. Ahhhh. Food is good.

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