I looooove red beans and rice. If offered, I never pass up a chance at a big bowl of long grained rice topped with the savory saucy spicy beans. And it’s not just red beans and rice–I just love beans and rice, period! I knew a guy who lived on welfare in Wyoming as a child–he described an entire year spent eating solely beans and rice. He did not remember it fondly for obvious reasons and hated beans and rice. That’s just about the only scenario in which I would UNDERSTAND hating beans and rice.
Given how much I love this dish, you’d think I would cook it at home regularly.
But nope. Get this: I have NEVER made beans and rice at home! Not even in the form of chili (and yes, I’ll tackle chili next). Seriously. And it’s just the best comfort food, and the most straightforward thing to make.
Of course now that we’ve made the vow eat in more often (avoiding that restaurant sodium), I couldn’t just bolt out the door to a restaurant for red beans and rice. It was clear: I had to make some at home.
And dudes–I can’t believe I waited this long. It is the BESTEST dish EVAR. We’re making this again. And again. And again. My husband wolfed down the first bowl and ran (RAN!) back to the pot for seconds. Moreover, he-who-hates-leftovers also took some red beans and rice with him to work for lunch. Seriously.
It took me back to the first time I had red beans and rice–sometime in college, cooked for me by a friend from the South (oh how I loved the dorms for bringing us all together in a delicious nexus), feeling the pleasant burn of cayenne in my mouth. I fell in love. I imagine for my husband, it took him back to his Louisiana childhood with muggy bayous and crawfish boils.
It takes awhile to make–the beans need to soak overnight (and even with the quick soak method, they still take a few hours to prep). But the process is straightforward: everything goes into a pot and then gets boiled and simmered over a few hours. Great on a slow day or evening. Not so great if you need dinner on the table in 30 minutes.
Recipe follows after the jump
RED BEANS AND RICE
adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s “Louisiana Real and Rustic”
Yes, I included pork. I rarely ever eat or cook with pork, but it’s pretty unavoidable with red beans and rice (and also with kimchi jjigae). For those of you who are more stalwart than I, you can substitute the ham shank and andouille sausage with turkey sausage.
But I did exclude bell peppers because WE HATE BELL PEPPERS in our household The original recipe (being faithful to the “Holy Trinity”) includes 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers.
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped celery
(1/2 cup chopped bell peppers)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (or more!)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 ham shank
2 andouille smoked sausage cut cross wise into 1/4 inch slices (1 cup)
1 pound dried red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted over, soaked overnight and drained**
3 Tablespoons chopped garlic
8-10 cups water
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat (I use my Le Creuset french oven). Saute the onions, (bell peppers if you’re using them), celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper, and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham, and sausage and saute for 5-6 minutes. Then add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 2 hours. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry and thick.
2. Use a wooden spoon to mash about half of the mixture against the side of the pot. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1.5 hours, or until the mixture is creamy and the beans are soft. Add more water if it becomes too thick. The mixture should be soupy, but not watery.
3. Remove the bay leaves and serve over steamed rice. With tabasco if you so desire!
** remember! this recipe requires prep! you have to soak the beans overnight! even if you use the quick soak method the beans require soaking! if you DO happen to forget about soaking the beans…you can get all the way through sauteing the ham and sausage, set aside, and then resume once the beans are soaked. (it’s what I did, because I forgot to soak the beans!). once the beans are soaked, then you can resume the recipe, using the pre-sauteed ham and sausage and vegetables.