I have recently started to attempt to cook more simply. By that I mean, fewer processed things and more natural ingredients.
I figure I have a Kitchen Aid mixer, a food processor, and a boyfriend who loves to eat, so what’s the worse that could happen?
One of the recipes I think I have mastered is Red Beans and Rice. With most new dishes, I search around for recipes and test them out then modify them until I am happy with the result. Red Beans and Rice is in the perfected category; I am still on version 2.1 of some other meals.
I will warn you in advance that this is not the meal to attempt when you are starving right this second. This one will take you at least 2 hours but it is so worth the wait.
Red Beans and Rice (modified from a recipe by Alton Brown)
This recipe will feed four easily with leftovers. I usually cut everything in half for 2 of us, which leaves enough leftover for lunch the next day. This stuff gets better if it sits in the fridge overnight. Viva leftovers!
For red beans:
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped (all organic veggies, if you have that option)
- 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (I use sea salt)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 links/ 1 package /12 oz andoullie sausage, sliced (mine is organic, skinless, and made from chicken and turkey. I heart Trader Joes).
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme (I use Mrs. Dash Table blend)
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 quarts water
- 1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris (I use dark red organic kidney beans)
Directions (with narrative)
Place the oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot.
*I cry like crazy when I chop onions, to the point that I can barely see. Wearing sunglasses helps. Using a food processer is even better. I chop all the above veggies up very roughly then toss them all into the food processor for a nice dice without tears.
* I will also add that I am really not a fan of raw green peppers and onion. If you are also not a fan, give this recipe a try. It cooks so long that you really only get the flavors and not any crunchy vegetables. Stop rolling your eyes, there’s no way you are a more picky eater than I am, just try it..one time.
Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
*You really do need to stir constantly to avoid having the veggies burn. For this reason, I assemble all the other ingredients before I drop anything into the pot. Times like this I wish I had a sous chef.
Add the sausage, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes.
* Mine usually takes a little more time to come to a boil, closer to 12-15 min, so have patience. Don’t fret over how green the mixture looks at this point. The red beans and sausage will do their thing, trust me.
Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
* This is the hard part because your whole house is going to smell like yummy, delicious red beans while they cook. In a word, mouth-watering.
Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.
* I use the potato masher trick to thicken up the sauce. I would estimate that I mash up about 1/3 of the beans in the process.
For the rice, I use Trader Joe’s Organic brown rice, which comes frozen and is ready in 3 minutes. If you are not so fortunate to have this miracle of science, old fashioned brown rice works just fine too. You should start it when you uncover the beans assuming your rice will take about 30-40 min to cook completely.
Scoop up the yummy red beans over the rice and if you feel like it, add in a spoonful of sour cream to pretty it up a bit.
My favorite memory so far of eating red beans and rice is sharing a big pot of them with my parents and boyfriend the day of the presidential inauguration in 2009. We were beyond frozen and tired from standing outside from 4am to 2pm, so when we finally made it back to the house around 5pm, the red beans and rice I made the day before was more than perfect. It was our own version of the Inaugural balls- red beans and rice and pajamas.
Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think.