2 ripe banana peppers, de-seeded and minced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp. basil

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

1 lb. country smoked sausage

1/4 cup dry sherry wine

1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice

1/4 cup flatleaf parsley, minced

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 bunches thinly sliced green onions for garnish

6 cups cooked brown rice

Loaf hot whole wheat bread.

1/2 tsp. thyme

2 quarts water + 2 quarts light chicken stock

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 lb. high quality black beans (Camellia or Hoya recommended)

12 oz. lean bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, finely diced

2 ribs celery, finely diced

1/2 small bell pepper, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

First, place the full pound of beans into a large stainless steel stockpot and completely cover them with the two quarts of water. Then bring the water to a rapid boil and actively boil the beans for 10 minutes over a high flame. When the boiling period is done, remove the pot from the fire, put the cover on tightly, and let the beans soak in the hot waster for exactly 2 hours. This allows the beans to hydrate and absorb water, reduce their gaseous content, and soften their outer hulls.

When the soaking period is over, take a heavy stockpot you'll actually cook the beans in and drop in the diced bacon and the olive oil. Over a medium heat, stirring constantly to keep the bacon from sticking to the bottom of the pot, render out the drippings. Then stir in the onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic, tomato, banana peppers, thyme, basil, bay leaves, crushed red pepper flakes, and the smoked sausage and cook everything together until the vegetable mixture wilts and softens.

At this point, pour in the 2 quarts of light stock along with the wine and the lemon juice and bring the contents of the stock pot to a rapid boil. Meanwhile, using a colander, drain the black beans, discard the water you soaked them in, and add them to the pot. Once again, bring the stock back to a rapid boil but immediately reduce the heat to low, stir everything together one more time, cover the pot, and cook the bean mixture for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Note: if some of the stock evaporates during cooking and the bean liquid thickens too much, simply add water or a little more chicken broth (canned chicken broth will do nicely).

Finally, about 15 minutes before you're ready serve the dish, stir in the minced parsley and adjust the final seasoning with salt and black pepper to your taste. Then, when you're ready to eat, spoon our a big helping of hot brown rice into a bowl and ladle the beans and a generous piece of sausage over the top. All that's left is to garnish the plate with a sprinkling of thinly sliced green onions and serve with two or three slices of hot wheat bread right from the oven.


Chef's Notes:

1. A light chicken stock is a chicken broth which has been diluted by half its volume with water. You should always use a light stock to form a good cooking base that doesn't overpower and lets other flavors such as the beans, in this case to come through.

2. Instead of using thyme, basil, bay leaves and all the individual seasonings, you can substitute a teaspoon of Frank Davis Sicilian Seasoning in its place.

3. As is the case with red beans, white beans, limas, and blackeyes, Creole style black beans taste 100% better the next day, so don't be reluctant to cook them a day in advance.

4. The rapid boiling/hot soaking technique has been advanced lately as a method for reducing intestinal gas produced my most legumes. Several tests in my kitchens thusfar have indicated positive results.