Creole White Beans and Rice

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

2 bay leaves

1 cup chopped boiled ham

1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

1 lb. dried white navy beans, soaked overnight and drained

6 to 8 cups water

1 lb. smoked sausage (divided use)

1 tsp. Tabasco sauce

Heat oil over medium heat in large, heavy saucepan or dutch oven.  You want a heavy pan so that mixture doesn't scorch too easily.

Add onions, celery, salt and pepper.  Cook for about 5 minutes.  Add the ham, garlic, and bay leaf.  Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Add drained beans, Tabasco, and 6 cups of the water to start.  Stir and cover; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water as necessary.

Mash beans against side of pot so that they are creamy  Add 1/3 lb. of the sausage and cook uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve over rice with a side of sausage and additional hot sauce, if desired.