Is the Pope Coming for Dinner? No, just Trent Thurston and his Friends!

My 3-year old daughter, Jane Wingo and I just walked into our home in Charlottesville, Virginia and she declared with enthusiasm, “something smells yummy and delicious.”  It made me smile.  That was my exact reaction when I would walk into the home that I grew-up in in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.  We were more than blessed with the best cook on the Gulf Coast, Eloise Thomas.  Weezie, as we lovingly called her, was like a second Mother to my siblings and me and she was always cooking something spectacular in the kitchen.    

Our dear friend Trent Thurston, is having some friends over to our home this afternoon to watch basketball.  It is so Gulf Coast of me to open our home to Trent and his friends — what is more defining is that I have Vanessa, whom I call Cajun Voodoo Mama cooking up a pot of her famous Red Beans & Rice. It is the dish that my Mother swears she would serve the Pope if he came for supper. 

The smell is driving me crazy, but Cajun Voodoo Mama will not let anyone have a taste of it until the spices have settled…she has a reputation around town as the best Cajun Chef and she refuses to ruin it by my impatience.   

It is the perfect dish to serve during Lent on Fridays, as this version has no meat.  If it weren’t Lent, we would have added 1 pound of sliced andouille or smoked sausage.

Here is Cajun Voodoo Mama’s secret recipe:

1 pound dried red kidney beans soaked over night

3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 garlic clove, minced or grated
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons quality balsamic vinegar
chopped flat leaf parsley
Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

  1. Place red beans in a heavy pot with enough water to cover by 1 inch.
  2. Add next five ingredients to the pot and simmer on medium-high heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add chopped vegetables, cover pot and continue cooking on a low simmer for 2 hours.  Stir the pot every 15 – 20 minutes to make sure the beans are not sticking.  Adjust the temperature as needed.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar, stir pot and test beans for creaminess.  Continue cooking for another 30 minutes if necessary to achieve creaminess.  Stir in chopped parsley, Tabasco and seasoning to taste.
  5. Season to taste with Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning
  6. Serve with long grain white rice and Tabasco on the side.

Voodoo Dat!

Laura and Vanessa


1 Comment

  1. Caroline Emerson

    Oooeee! Can’t wait to try this!

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