Food for Taught
Locals Share Their Favorites from Mom’s Kitchen
(page 6 of 7)
Owner/Operator, Houmas House Plantation and Gardens
There are two dishes Kevin Kelly’s mother, Alice, won’t eat unless she cooks them: red beans and rice, and spaghetti and meatballs. They happen to be Kelly’s favorite dishes from childhood.
“No matter what red beans we have, it could be from the best restaurant in the world, she won’t eat it.” And that includes Café Burnside, one of three – soon to be four – restaurants at the Houmas House Plantation and Gardens that Kelly owns.
At 88, Alice Kelly lives on the beautiful plantation grounds where her son built her a cottage, with a kitchen and garden in which to reside, and she frequently cooks for herself and son despite easy access to the gourmet and casual restaurants that surround her.
“She was always cooking,” says Kelly. “I remember her all the time cooking.”
Growing up in New Orleans East, Kelly went to a school that had no cafeteria, but that didn’t stop him from having hot lunches. While the other children munched sandwiches and other cold food, Kelly enjoyed red beans and rice and spaghetti and meatballs, hot from a thermos.
“We were never allowed to eat them on the first day,” he says of his mother’s red beans. “They had to chill out in the refrigerator and marinate overnight.”
Kelly purchased the antebellum estate and former sugar plantation in 2003. He has since renovated the 1828 Greek Revival house, fully developed acres of gardens complete with bridges and fountains and opened Latil’s Landing, a dinner-only gourmet restaurant; Café Burnside, a bustling lunch venue; and the Turtle Bar Coffee Shop, housed in a former pigeonnier. Opening in May will be a new carriage house tea room, serving appetizers and small plates from morning to night.
Despite his love for food, Kelly never cooked a day in his life. “I never will,” he says. “I’m lazy and I don’t want to chop. And, I don’t do dishes.” His team of chefs does this for him and has even tried to match Alice Kelly’s red beans recipe.
“Quite honestly, I can’t tell the difference between the two,” he says. “I think they taste the same.”
Alice Kelly’s Red Beans and Rice
1 pound dried kidney beans
1 1/2 quarts water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 link smoked pork sausage, cut in 1/4-inch circles
1 large smoked ham hock
1 bay leaf
Louisiana hot sauce to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cooked white rice
Rinse red beans. In a large container soak beans in the water for at least 1 hour. This can be done overnight in a refrigerator.
In a large saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat, sauté onion, garlic and sausage for 5 minutes, or until the vegetables are clear and wilted. Add beans (with the water), ham hock and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Take out ham hock, cut meat away from bone and add to the pot of beans. Season to taste with Louisiana hot sauce and salt and pepper.
Serve in soup bowls over hot rice.