Jan 14 2009

Red Beans and Rice

Published by at 8:03 pm under Recipes

For years, I assumed that red beans and rice was just what it sounded like:  red beans stirred into white rice.  Period.  Look, I’m a German girl from Michigan.  I don’t know anything about the food of the south.  Over time, I learned that there were other things involved in the dish, and I also learned that I actually like beans.  So, I decided that the time had come to give this recipe a shot.  I served it for dinner tonight, but just in case it didn’t turn out (or I didn’t like it…or The Man didn’t like it…we’re picky), I bought frozen pizza.  That’s still in the freezer, because red beans and rice is DEE-LI-SHUS.

The recipe I used, I got off of the Food Network web site, and it is marked “Courtesy of Dooky Chase”.  I used the magic of Google to discover that this is a restaurant in New Orleans…a rather unfortunately named restaurant, if you ask me, but to each their own.  Also, the recipe said it served six, and I can only imagine that this means six elephants, because it yielded A LOT of food.  In the future, I will cut this recipe in half, but I’m going to outline the whole one here so that you can do your own funky halving or tripling math, as you need.

The other change I would make would be to either not use quite so much salt, or to sub some of the salt with something else.  Next time, I’m going to bring some Old Bay to the game and see what happens.  The salt content might also depend on the meat you use, but just be aware that I found this to be a touch too salty.

OK, enough exposition!  Let’s begin.  You will need:

  • 1 pound dried red kidney beans (are there other kinds besides red? Is it shameful that my stepdad works with beans and I don’t know that?)
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound smoked ham, cubed.  We’re not the kind of household that has ham just laying around, so I went to the local mega mart and picked up a small, boneless, smoked ham end.  It was just over a pound.  I figure I’ll fry the remaining slices and eat them for delicious snacks.
  • 1 pound smoked sausages, cut into 1/2 inch slices.  I think traditionally, this would be andouille sausage, but there isn’t much demand for andouille in this neck of the woods.  I used Eckrich Smoked Sausage – not the teeny breakfast links!  The big ‘uns that are like 1″ thick.
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp. whole fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 level tbsp. salt

The first thing you want to do is look over your beans.  I dump them onto a baking sheet so that they’re in one layer.  You’re looking to take out any funky or broken beans, plus any foreign material that might have slipped through the screening.  I found a corn kernel in mine today.  After you pick over the beans, put them in a colander and give them a good rinse.  Then, stick them in a 5-quart pot.  Pour the 2 quarts of water on top and throw in the onion.  Bring the whole thing to a boil, then back off the heat and boil slowly for 1 hour.  What does it mean to boil slowly?  It means – the water is boiling, and there are bubbles across the whole suface, but it’s not as “energetic” as a full boil.  One website I checked says that a slow boil is at 205°F, while a full boil is at 212°F.  Anyway, a not-quite-full boil.  Once the hour is up, check if the beans are soft.  If they are, give them a good stir, and mash some of them against the side of the pot.   If you are like me and kind of uncoordinated, maybe a few presses with a potato masher would work, too?  I didn’t think of it ’til now, but give it a whirl.

Now heat up the oil in a frying pan.  Dump in the ham and sausage and saute for 5 minutes.  When finished, dump the whole shebang – oil included – into the pot with the beans.  Then, deglaze the pan with the 1 cup of water, and dump that into the bean pot as well.  Now, add all of the other ingredients to the bean pot, give it a good stir, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Serve over rice – I used regular long-grain white.

The recipe says “beans should be nice and creamy”.  I have no clue if my beans were creamy or not.  I don’t THINK they were.  Maybe I didn’t mash enough.  But you know what?  It was still great food.  Next time I’ll mash a bit more and see what happens.   Also, if your beans don’t seem thick enough at the end of 30 minutes, let them simmer some more.  I left mine on for 45, just because I kind of forgot about the rice and had to cook that.

Also, I have to say, red beans and rice looks like a big ol’ mess in a bowl, but it tastes great.

Red beans and rice, dwarfed by The Man’s huge eating bowl.Red beans and rice

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