Growing up in Houston with New Orleans relatives, this was a staple. I loved it so much as a kid that I'd always pick it as my birthday meal. Simple, warming, and good.
- Cover the beans with a few inches of water and soak overnight. Alternately, you can bring them to a boil for one minute, then turn off the heat and let them sit for an hour.
- Rinse the soaking liquid off. You don't have to, but I read it reduces gas, and who am I to take chances?.
- Saute the sausage and onion over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent. Maybe 5 minutes. If you have extra grease, drain it off. You might not. Actually, just leave the grease inches A little pork fat never killed anyone.
- Add sausage & onion to the pot, and add water to cover the beans.
- Add bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil and then turn the heat to low, so they are just simmering.
- Cook until the beans are soft. Could be an hour and a half, could be 3 hours. I've never been able to adequately predict this. More cooking never hurts, though. Stir every now and then to make sure they are not sticking to the bottom (if they are, turn the heat down!) and add water if needed. If you use a crockpot, it takes about 8 hours or so.
- Salt to taste. A good teaspoon or so, I think. But be careful -- you can always add more salt, but it's hard to take it away.
- Cook the rice according to package instructions.
- If you want the beans thicker you can either: a) take a cup or so out, mash 'em up good, stir back inches Or b) stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into a quarter cup of cool water to dissolve it, and then stir this into the beans, and cook another 5 minutes or so.
- Serve over the rice, and pass the pepper sauce around.