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New York's Chef Bobo Cooks for Katrina Benefit

Chef Bobo's book offers healthy recipes for children.
Chef Bobo's book offers healthy recipes for children.

Sunday night, The Calhoun School in Manhattan will host "A Taste of New Orleans," a dinner to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The school's executive chef, Chef Bobo, will cook a meal including chicken & shrimp gumbo, Shrimp Creole, jambalaya, catfish, muffaletta sandwiches, shrimp and roast beef po' boy sandwiches, bread pudding with lemon sauce, pralines and red beans and rice with sausage. Chef Bobo tells Scott Simon about the menu -- especially the red beans and rice.

Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Andouille

Serves six

Every Monday, in every restaurant in New Orleans there is a tradition of serving red beans and rice for lunch or dinner. It's a great comforting food and everybody loves it. If you can make it on Sunday and serve it on Monday, it's even better after sitting for one night in the refrigerator!

1 lb dried red kidney beans

2 tbs olive oil

1 med onion, peeled and finely chopped (about 1 cup)

1 stalk celery finely chopped

1 green bell pepper, cored and chopped (about 1 cup)

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

5 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

2 sprig fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried thyme)

3 bay leaves

1 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbs tomato paste

1/2 tsp tabasco sauce

8 cups water

1 lb turkey kielbasa, cut into chunks

1 tbs olive oil

1 recipe steamed rice (see below)


1. Wash the dried beans and look through them for stones and throw away any which may have been in the bag.

2. Put the beans in a pot which will hold 3 quarts of water and fill the pot with water. Put the beans aside and let sit over night. This will make the beans less gaseous and will cook faster when ready to cook. As an alternative you may put the beans in a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit for one hour and then drain.

3. Put a 3 quart soup pot on the stove over high heat and add the olive oil. Swirl it about to make sure the bottom is covered. Add the onions, celery, green pepper, garlic, thyme, oregano, bay leaves and black pepper. Stir around so that the vegetables will cook evenly and the flavors will mingle. It should be very aromatic. When the vegetables become translucent and they are just beginning to turn a golden color, add the tomato paste and Tabasco sauce, stir in the previously drained beans and add the water. Bring to a boil and immediately turn the heat to low and allow the beans to simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure there are none sticking to the bottom.

4. Check the beans to see if they are fully cooked, they will hold their shape but will be soft to the tooth. If so, the beans are done. Now is the time to season the beans with salt. You should never season beans with salt before or during cooking as doing so will make the beans tough. Add a little more pepper if you feel it is needed. To make the beans creamy, take about 1/2 cup of beans out of the pot and mash them in a dish. Return the beans to the pot and stir and allow to simmer a little longer. They will get nice and creamy the way they like them in New Orleans. If the beans seem too thick add a little water to thin them out.

5. At this point the beans have been prepared in a strictly vegetarian way and can be served now with rice as a vegetarian entree.

6. Place a nonstick frying pan on high heat and add 1 tbs of olive oil. Swirl the oil around to make sure bottom of pan is fully coated. Add the turkey kielbasa which has been cut into chunks. Saute the kielbasa by stirring it around in the pan until they are golden brown.

7. Add the kielbasa to the beans and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes. The beans are now ready to serve.

8. In the middle of a plate or soup bowl, put a portion of steamed rice in the center and ladle the beans around it. Sprinkle a few drops of Tabasco sauce on top to give it zest.

Basic Steamed Rice

1 tbs safflower oil

1 1/2 white rice (basmati is delicious for this)

1 tsp kosher salt

2 1/2 cups water (or vegetable stock if you want it flavored)


Place a 1-quart saucepan on high heat and get it hot. When hot, add the oil and swirl around until the oil coats the entire surface. Add the rice to the hot oil and stir it around until the rice aroma begins to waft up and smells like toasted rice. Add the salt. Slowly and carefully add the water. It will spatter. (It will spatter because the pan and ingredients are hot.) When it comes to full boil, reduce the heat to a low simmer, cover and allow to steam for about 17 minutes. After 17 minutes, turn off the heat, remove lid and fluff the quinoa and then replace the lid and allow to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Chef Bobo's Good Food Cookbook. Published by Meredith Publishing, 2004.

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