June 1, 2009

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Red beans and rice and everything nice!

You know, Louis Armstrong used to sign his letters, “Red Beans and Ricely Yours.”

Plainly, red beans and rice is not so plain here in South Louisiana. It is a staple food, yes. But it is spicy, rich, and delicious.

Red beans and rice is usually the dish of choice on Mondays in these parts. It’s easy to make. You can put the beans on in the morning and let them cook on low for hours, without having to make much of a fuss over them. It’s also a good dish to help you “recover” from the weekend.

Today is Monday. But I did not make red beans today. Instead I made them on Friday.

Why?

I may have mentioned to you that I am working on a review of the cookbook Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found From The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. As part of my review, I have chosen a few of the recipes to prepare, and red beans and rice is one of them. Friday was just a convenient day for me to cook them.

And… they are delicious! I admit that I was missing one ingredient and I was short on another one. But, despite that, they came out very good.

The recipe serves about 12 people, but I doubled it. So I guess mine could serve 24

I started with the “trinity:” onion, celery, and bell pepper. But, I didn’t have any celery. Guess that means I just used the “couple” instead of the “trinity.” Of course, I had to add garlic!

I chopped the onion and bell pepper, and I crushed the garlic and reserved it.

Usually, for beans and gumbos, I use andouille sausage. It just goes well with those types of dishes. Well, my grocery was out of it, so I used a green onion sausage instead. Not ideal, but… oh well. The good thing about this brand of sausage, though, is that they use no chemicals. It’s all natural. No preservatives. And it’s good eats too!

I rendered the sausage in a large all-clad pot. My goal here was to retain the fat from the sausage so that I could sautee the veggies in it. Once the sausage was browned and basically cooked, I removed them from the pot and threw in the onions and bell peppers.

I sauteed them on medium-high for several minutes, until they became translucent. Then I added the crushed garlic, making sure I stirred often. I also kept water close at hand. I hate burnt garlic.

I continued to sautee for another minute or so, then poured the water in. I returned the sausage to the pot and added the beans. I then added enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches. I tossed in some salt and cajun seasoning, a bit of Tabasco, and 2 bay leaves. I figured that was enough seasoning for the moment. I planned on adding some more later.

I brought the pot to a boil, the lowered the heat and let it simmer for a good long while. I checked back every now and then to make sure that the beans weren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. And I added water when I thought it was necessary.

I don’t know about you, but I like my beans creamy and juicy. So, I tend to add more water and cook it down till it’s just right.

Since I was cooking a double-batch, my pot looked like it was about to overflow!

But, in just a few hours, this unruly pot turned into this:

I always smash a lot of the beans against the side of the pot once they are cooked well. This is what makes the beans creamy.

Once the beans were cooked, I added chopped green onions (just the green part) and finely chopped fresh parsley. Ummm, Ummm, good!

C’est bon!

Do you have a favorite red beans recipe? Or is there a restaurant that prepares them just the way you like them?

Let me know! Leave a comment below!