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Red Beans and Rice

* 1 pound dried red beans, soaked overnight
* 7-10 cups water or chicken broth
* 1 pound sausage, sliced into rounds (andouille sausage preferred)
* 1 large sweet onion, chopped
* 1/2 green or red bell pepper, chopped
* 8 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 tsp ground black pepper
* 2-3 tsp Creole seasoning, or to taste
* 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
* 1 ham hock, or chopped ham to flavor
* 4 cups cooked rice

# Place the beans and water into a slow cooker. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage in the skillet; remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer to the slow cooker. Reserve drippings. Add onion, green pepper, jalapeno pepper and garlic to the drippings; cook and stir until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer everything from the skillet to the slow cooker.

# Season the mixture with pepper and Creole seasoning. Add the fresh basil leaves and ham or ham hock. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours, or until beans are tender. If the bean mixture seems too watery, take the lid off the slow cooker and set heat to High to cook until they reach a creamy texture. You can also use the back of a spoon to mash enough beans to make the pot creamy.