Sundays with Evan: Ragin’ Cajun

On Sunday morning, I found myself numbly rooted into my couch.  Waking up with little optimism and zero motivation, I felt that taking the tame route for the day was unavoidable.

When all was lost and bleak, the phone rang, flashing the name of a trusty neighbor. Surely he would up for brunch and a beer.  After a quick breakfast spat/debate, it was decided to mosey on up to Iron Hill for a Sunday brunch.

Ordering my obligatory Bloody Mary with a dill pickle (try it), I was pleased and surprised to see the corned beef hash back on the menu with the brunch specials.  Yes, there are far better choices offered (Blue Crab omelet = sex); yes, it’s easy to make at home, but Iron Hill does the hash so right that now whenever I see it on the menu, my mouth salivates for it.  The breakfast potatoes are so crisp and buttery they’re reminiscent of mornings of my youth, jockeying for position on my plate with thick-cut corned beef and a happy helping of red pepper … yum.

Waltzing back to mi casa, I got a text that would be the precursor for the rest of the evening. It was sent from the neighborhood Cajun queen that read (with a deep southern drawl), “I miss y’all, what’s going on at yer’ house t’nite … I got my famous red beans and rice!!!”  And that was it — the one spark needed to reignite the fire that roared so vigorously on Sundays past.

My fingers went into overdrive as mass texts signaled out to the people: “Evan’s House.”

A 6:30 p.m. meeting time was set, and it was only 2:45 p.m. This left me plenty of time to conjure up a complementary dish and beverage for the authentic Creole cuisine.  Then I mistakenly planted my rear back onto the couch and, soon enough … *snore*.

As I begin to shake off my coma-like slumber, my eyes focused on the clock just enough to make out a five, next to another five and a six.  I sprang up, fumbled for my keys, shot out the door and sped to the market.  With zero definitive culinary plan in mind, I started to reach for whatever looked appealing at the time.  Kalamata olives, stuffed grape leaves, hummus and pita, and in a quick hazy regression to my Polish roots, pierogies.

Zipping back home with my mish-mash of food, I found my kitchen already occupied with company, and a Cajun aroma boiling over from a cast iron pot full of red beans and smoked sausage.  I suddenly felt like I was in the belly of “The Big Easy” as The Cajun Queen wrapped me up for a big and long-overdue hug.  With a personality like the Unsinkable Molly Brown (“Titanic”) and enough double-entendres to make Dr. Ruth blush, she’s the type of woman who can shake down a room and fill it with more love than even your mom is capable of.

Bowl bottoms where coated with white rice, then filled with the thick and steamy red beans and sausage reduction.   I’ll tell you how to get close to what I experienced, but with smoked sausage straight from N’awlins and a woman daring enough to let a pot full of this concoction simmer overnight, you’ll be hard pressed to come close.

As classic rock hummed through the speakers and booze-induced euphoria overtook everyone, Mardis Gras beads were tossed around freely and strung about the necks of all.  I feverishly tried to dance off the buzz that might linger into the forthcoming workweek.

It was nice to be celebrating this Sunday in the tradition that “Sundays with Evan” started with:  Good food, better neighbors, and a hint of spring in the air.

Sunday’s Featured Recipe:

1 bag of dry, small red kidney beans
1 pound smoked sausage sliced, or chorizo
1 large onion
1 large green bell pepper
1 red bell pepper
4 tbs of liquid smoke flavor
salt and pepper to taste

Chop all the veggies. Add all ingredients together in a crock pot. Add water to cover everything (add a little extra since the beans soak up a lot of it). Cook all day, or you can cook it all night and allow it to sit for the day to absorb the flavors. Cook rice and spoon it on top). And that. my friend. is the Cajun way.