Recipes

Red Beans & Rice

August 15, 2016

Red Beans & RiceIt is currently over 90ºF outside and humid. It is disgusting. July slowly creeped by. And I mean slowly. And now that it’s August, I anxiously await that first stretch of days where the humidity breaks and the temperature is in the low 80s (preferably the 70s) and I can tell myself that Autumn is nigh. Yes, it will still be August and the humidity and heat will continue on and on for weeks, but just knowing that it’s coming is enough for me. Getting that reminder of what truly nice weather feels like awakens my soul and my creativity.

I long for the days of selecting from my large collection of Autumnal music and going for day long walks outside in the sun and cool, crisp air with a hot coffee beverage of sorts in hand. I do not want the days of walking outside in barely any clothing and immediately sweating the very moment you step outside, trying to avoid the sun and drinking only cold drinks to last any longer than it already has. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed this yearning has started earlier and earlier. I get disenchanted with music in the summer. I count down the days until I get that “Fall Feeling.” Each year, it seems to come a little bit earlier. Which is both good and bad. It’s bad because I just makes me mad that it ISN’T fall yet. Good because it gets me thinking about Autumn.

Early in July, I gave up on Summer and started planning my Autumn dessert menu. I was done with Summer. I still am. I almost always am. I dread the start of Summer. How most people feel about Winter is how I feel about Summer. Call me crazy. Call me weird. Call me whatever you want. But I won’t budge on this. I would much rather be cool and comfortable and have to put on an extra layer rather than taking off all of my clothes and still be hot and uncomfortable. The rattle of a window air conditioner polluting the air and having to turn the tv up to an obscene volume just to hear it. I could go on and describe the unpleasantries, but that’s not what this is about. Maybe I should start a Tumblr on why summer sucks…or a BuzzFeed list…

Red Beans & Rice

Ok, fine, I will begrudgingly admit that there are parts of Summer I do enjoy, but when you don’t have your own yard or porch or pool or deck in the middle of a city, it’s harder to enjoy. And what’s so bad about Fall? It’s cooler. It smells crisp. The leaves turn brilliant colors. You can have apple cider, hot or cold. Pumpkin pie. Hot lattes. Bake some bread. Wear a sweater. Braise short ribs. Drink red wine that isn’t sangria! THE FALL IS AMAZING!! It leads right into the holidays, the time of year when everything is sparkly and people forget their differences and try to come together (well, maybe not this November).

So rather than continue with my usual Summer boring suppers of salads and quickly cooked pastas, I decided that on my last day off, after spending a few hours brainstorming dessert ideas, I would just go ahead and get to cooking. I would cook a dinner that was comforting. That would take some time. Because I could. Because I wanted to. And because I wanted to tell Summer to just eff off already!

Red Beans & Rice is one of those old school, very traditional, very comforting foods from down South. Traditionally done on laundry day, the beans would simmer all day and create a thick sauce, served with rice and you’ve got a nutrient and flavorful dish. It’s easy. It’s very hands off. In all honesty, I don’t know if you can call my version exactly traditional. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten red beans and rice in my many travels to the south. And as much as I would love to use dried red beans, I usually don’t, because that requires some planning. More often than not, I wake up in the morning thinking about breakfast and whilst eating breakfast the question of what will dinner be is the only thought going through my head. When the thought of red beans and rice comes up, it’s too late to do the dried beans. Although, technically, there are ways to use dried beans the same day. But it requires boiling and letting them sit and waiting and draining and more boiling and while it’s all relatively easy and hands free, it’s far simpler to just open up a can. I will also be honest, I don’t know that I’ve ever really noticed the difference. Maybe it’s because they’re doctored up with spices and meat or that I don’t eat them often enough to notice the subtle differences. So really, it’s up to you. I won’t judge either way because this recipe isn’t authentic. It’s just damn tasty. And that’s really all I care about.

You could serve this as just a bowl of beans, maybe drizzle some really good olive oil on top (the expensive kind you never cook) and have some crusty bread on the side. That would be a filling meal in itself. However, it’s nice to break up the stew with rice. Simple, plain white rice. It cuts through any saltiness and heat and gives you a bit more body. I’ve read many things on rice, to cook it like pasta, to rinse it first…all of that is just fine and dandy. My one thing for rice is this: butter. Butter makes all the difference. I have used oil, I’ve used coconut milk, I have used water, I have used stock, I have thrown in herbs, but the one thing that makes white rice incredibly delicious and moist, is butter. It doesn’t slick up the rice and make it greasy. The rice absorbs all that butter, all that flavor and you’re left with creamy rice. Rice that says plump and moist even in the fridge. Yeah, maybe it’s not all that healthy for you, but it’s damn tasty. And a little goes a long way.

Red Beans & Rice

Red Beans & Rice
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My take on a classic Louisiana comfort food. Slow cooked beans, andouille sausage, ham & stock make for a flavorful stew best served with rice (with lots of butter).
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4 hours 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4 hours 3 hours
Red Beans & Rice
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
My take on a classic Louisiana comfort food. Slow cooked beans, andouille sausage, ham & stock make for a flavorful stew best served with rice (with lots of butter).
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4 hours 3 hours
Servings Prep Time
8 servings 25 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4 hours 3 hours
Ingredients
Servings: servings
Units:
Instructions
  1. For a dish like this, I love being able to cook it all in one pot, so I usually turn to my handy dutch oven, but any large pot will work. Add some oil (at least a tablespoon) to the pot and heat it up.
  2. When that oil is nice and shimmery, take your beef bone (yes, that sounds kinda dirty) and add it to the oil. It should sizzle. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the top side. Sear the bone for about 5 minutes. Use a pair of tongs to list it up a bit, if it lifts easily and looks brown and crusty, give it a flip, if not, let it go a bit longer. Repeat. Because this is a bone, there isn't much meat on it. You're using it for the fat. All sorts of flavor will melt out of this and the gelatin and marrow within the bone will help thicken up the stew. Sometimes you might have to hold the bone with your tongs to let it sear the sides. Sear on all sides. Set aside. So one trick I have, and also why I like my dutch oven, is that i use the lid flipped over to put the meat on. This will catch any juice and will just go back over the pot, so when it steams, it'll wash any residue back into the pot.
  3. Ok, so the bone is browned and set aside. In that flavored oil, thrown in your diced ham and sliced andouille sausage. If you have a small pot, you might want to do this in batches. What you're trying to do here is brown the outside of the meat, not so that it's hard, but so it gets a little bit darkened and golden around the edges. A nice crust. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and pile it on top of the bone.
  4. To the hot oil, I add in the bay leaves. I like the heat to really start to bring out the flavor and essences of these puppies. They aren't going to sizzle like meat. But if you forget them long enough, they'll burn. And all your smoke alarms will go off and your neighbors will get mad at you.
  5. After the bay leaves have cooked in the oil, about a minute, it's time to add in some sizzle effect: go ahead and add in the onion, bell pepper and celery. Sprinkle salt and pepper (if I had to say, I would guess it's about a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper) over and then give everything a stir to mix and coat. The heat should be around medium/medium-high. Cook for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften and the onions start to turn translucent.
  6. Take a wooden spoon and clear a little spot over the heat source in your pan. Drizzle in a little pool of olive oil. Let it heat for about 30 seconds. Then squeeze in the tomato paste and the garlic paste. Let them cook, untouched for 30 seconds. Then, take your wooden spoon and mash them into everything and stir it all around to fully coat. Once it's completely mixed in, let it cook for about a minute, just to enhance the intensity of it all.
  7. My favorite part is next. Pour your vermouth in. The sound it makes is glorious. A bubbling sizzle that says "hey, all this flavor stuck to the bottom of the pan is going into your food!" (yeah, that's lame, whatever). Stir! Stir! (Not vigorously, I'm just excited, YOU'RE COOKING!)
  8. You don't need to wait long once the vermouth is added. Just scrape up brown bits on the bottom and once those are incorporated, in goes one can of rinsed beans (or if you've combined them, about half) and a cup of beef stock. Guess what, stir! Mix it all in. Let them cook for about 15 minutes, then, go in with a potato masher (or a large spoon) and mash as much of the beans as you can. It doesn't need to be perfect. Nobody is judging.
  9. All mashed? Good. Now, add the rest of the beans, the rest of the stock, the porcini and all that meat you set aside (along with any juice that has been released). Bring all of this to a boil.
  10. Once a boil has been reached, turn it down to a simmer and let it bubble away for 2 hours, uncovered.
  11. After 2 hours, put the lid on, but leave it ajar and let it simmer away for another hour.
  12. After the time is up, turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar and Pickapeppa. Give it a taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper. It's time to eat!
  13. Serve over rice. Here's how I do rice: In a small saucepan, I combine 3 tablespoon of butter, 1 cup of stock (any kind), 1/2 cup of jasmine rice and a big pinch of salt. Bring it to a boil, clamp a lid on, turn the heat to low and let it cook for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and let it sit for 10 minutes (DON'T TAKE THE LID OFF after the 15 minutes, wait until the 10 minutes of rest has passed). Fluff with a fork. This amount of rice will be enough for 4 people, or 2 (if you like rice as much as me). For this, I like to spoon the stew into a bowl and then top it with a scoop (or two of rice).
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