Soak beans at room temperature in enough water to cover by 2 inches with 2 tablespoons sea salt for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
Place beans in a pot with enough water to cover by a couple of inches and cook at a vigorous simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. (Add more water if needed.) Taste the beans for tenderness and once beans are soft and almost fully cooked, drain beans and set aside. Note: If using canned beans, drain liquid and rinse beans; set aside.
While the Beans Cook
Note: Cook the rice separately while preparing the beans (SEE RECIPE BELOW).
Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat until browned and fat is almost fully rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove bacon pieces with a slotted spoon and reserve on a paper towel-lined plate.
Add the onion, green and red pepper, celery, and carrot to the pot with the rendered bacon grease; cook over med-high heat, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, cumin, and black pepper; cook until the garlic and spices are fragrant (about 1 minute).
Stir in the cooked, drained beans, bacon, broth, and liquid smoke into the sauteed vegetables; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to med-low and vigorously simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are just soft and liquid begins to reduce (about 45 minutes). Note: If using canned beans, reduce the broth to only 6 cups and reduce cooking time to 20 minutes.
While the Beans and Vegetables are Simmering
Grill or brown sausage in a skillet to warm through—browning the sausage will increase flavor. Slice sausage into 1/4-inch sliced and stir into the beans with 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, and chopped parsley; cook until liquid is reduced and slightly thickened and beans are fully tender and creamy, 10 to 20 minutes).
Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and additional red wine vinegar. Serve over rice, sprinkling with chopped green onion and offer hot sauce separately, if desired.
Soaking the beans with sea salt in the water helps soften the skin, improves texture and flavor.
Double the recipe and freeze for easy weeknight dinners
Freeze the rice separately so it doesn't absorb all the juice from the beans before being served
Freeze the beans after SOAKING in STEP 1 to reduce time making the recipe later
Freeze the beans after STEP 2 to reduce time making the recipe later
Time-Saving TIP: Cut the cooking time with canned beans. Substitute 4 (15-ounce) cans of small red beans for the dried beans in this recipe and skip STEPS 1 and 2 of soaking and cooking the beans. Note: Soaked dried beans will have the best overall flavor and texture.