Classic creamy New Orleans red beans cooked in a pressure cooker and finished off in a porcelain lined Dutch oven (with ham shanks, smoked sausage, and imbedded fried chicken wings) is a clever way to come home after a long day of parades to a hot sit-down meal. You're gonna want to cook this special Mardi Gras recipe.

1 pound Camellia Brand red beans

3 cups water, preferably bottled

3 cups chicken stock (Kitchen Basics or Swanson)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound smoked sausage, bias cut into 1-inch pieces

3 cups yellow onion, medium diced

1 cup celery, finely diced

1 cup bell pepper, medium diced

10 toes garlic, minced

1/4 cup medium-dry sherry

2 packs ham shanks, cut into 4 pieces each

3 whole bay leaves

1 can Rotel tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley

1 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon black pepper

10 ounces beer (your choice of brands, but not light)

2 tablespoons Frank Davis Sprinkling Spice

2 tablespoons Frank Davis Garlic Hot Sauce

1/2 stick unsalted butter

2 packs cut chicken wings, 5-pound size

1 quart peanut oil

1 dozen French bread rolls

Instant rice

In a pressure cooker, add the beans, the water, and the chicken stock. Cook for a full 25 minutes.

After the allotted time, relieve the pressure inside the pot by spraying cold water on it in the sink until the pressure valve releases.

Then in a large, non-stick frying pan, heat up the olive oil and lightly brown the sausage. Place it in a bowl momentarily.

Next, using the olive oil remaining in the pan, saute the onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic for exactly 12 minutes (or until the onions clear). Then pour in the wine to deglaze the pan. Immediately thereafter, add the contents of the pressure cooker along with the sausage, the ham shanks, the Rotels, the bay leaves, the parsley, and the white and black pepper.

At this point, all that's left is to take the pressure-cooked beans, add them to a large Dutch oven (along with the remainder of chicken stock), pour in the beer, sprinkle on the Frank Davis seasoning, the hot sauce, and the half stick butter. Then stir everything together gently but uniformly until fully combined, put the lid on the pot, and cook on the stovetop for about an hour-and-a-half or until the beans turn soft and creamy.

Then just before you're ready to eat, Cajun-fry the chicken wings in a skillet half-filled with peanut oil, submerge them in the pot of beans, and let them simmer for about 15 minutes to pick up the bean flavor (a variation is to fry the wings at the same time the bean mixture comes together, submerge them at that time, and let them simmer in the beans until the dish is done).

Of course, in the end, after you've taken a soothing hot shower, head back into the kitchen, spoon out some hot rice in a deep soup bowl, ladle a hearty serving of the beans over the top, and crown every bowl with a few pieces of smoked sausage, a whole ham shank, and a few of the chicken wings.

A slice or two of buttered bread (hot French rolls work well), a cold salad topped with olive salad mix for dressing, and a tall glass of your favorite post-parade beverage round out the meal in true southern style.


Chef's Notes: By way of explanation, Mike and I added 6 cups of liquid to 1 pound of rinsed beans. After pressure cooking, we were left with 3 cups of liquid, because very little liquid escapes the pressure cooker, thereby allowing the beans to absorb 3 cups of liquid inside the vessel. If you don't have a pressure cooker, though, and you want to simulate this same technique in a cast iron Dutch oven, simply soak the beans over night. . . but in water alone no chicken broth

Stove Top Cooking: This same mixture will cook perfectly in a heavy pot on a slow burner on top the stove. I usually simmer the beans and all the complementary ingredients for 90 minutes after they're all mixed together. The beans should, however, be cooked in advance of Mardi Gras and slowly reheated for service after you get back from the parades. I do offer this warning, though: If you're going to do them 'stove top' in advance, don't cook them at night the aroma is so intense, you'll never get to sleep!

Oven Cooking: This same recipe can be cooked in the oven and served post parade, just like the beans you do in the pressure cooker. Just combine all the ingredients and put them into a Dutch oven. Then heat your oven to 250 degrees, slide the Dutch into the oven on the center rack, and allow the beans to cook undisturbed for at least four hours. or so. Just make sure you have sufficient water and chicken stock in the pot so that the beans don't 'bake' into a red bean cake.

Your Crock Pot is yet another device that can yield a fine pot of post-parade beans. Use the same ingredient combination and recipe cited above, but cook the dish on LOW if you'll be gone all day long or on HIGH if you expect to return home in about 4 hours or so.

Cajun-Frying is frying the chicken wings unseasoned and uncoated with and kind of flour batter.