I have a confession: I’m pretty sure I’m deep-down a Louisiana native. Not sure how it happened, but I’m pretty sure I was transported or kidnapped or something. Maybe I lived there and worked in some rich guy’s kitchen in a former life. Either way, I love me some Creole cookin’.
Also, every time I hear or say or think the words “Red Beans and Rice”, I immediately think of the Sir Mix-a-Lot song “Baby Got Back”…
“Give me a sister, I can’t resist her
Red beans and rice didn’t miss her”
I sing it every. single. time. Takes me back to middle school and pretending that I had dance moves.
Food for the Soul
Before I dive into this delicious recipe, I had to share a little goodness with you. Goodness for your soul that is.
Have you heard the name Greg Zanis yet? If you haven’t, let me fill you in on a beautiful story that’s good for the soul. Something we all could use right now in the midst of polarizing politics, hurricanes, and massacres at concerts. Greg Zanis made crosses for each of the victims of the Las Vegas shooting. He delivered them all himself and placed them near the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign to honor those who lost their lives last week. To think of the countless hours it must have taken him, not to mention the money, it really strikes me in the good feels. We need to hear about more of the positive things people do for one another instead of the negative.
Image Cred: Gregory Bull / AP
See the full story HERE.
Food that Feeds My Soul (+ My Belly)
If I could choose one last meal to have before I go on to whatever lies next for me, I’d hands-down ask for Red Beans and Rice. It has to be authentic, slow-cooked in a Louisiana kitchen, spicy, comforting Red Beans and Rice. None of the boxed stuff.
I actually used to really, really, realllyyyy love the Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice mix (like for years and years and years). In my older years *adjusts weight using the cane in hand* I’ve found that I just can’t handle all the sodium that comes with the boxed stuff. It used to do the job, but now, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to this absolute epitome of Southern comfort food.
I’ve tried A LOT of Red Beans and Rice recipes. This is a compilation of years of drooling, cooking, sweating, and dreaming about my favorite dish. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Here’s the breakdown:
The night before, soak yer beans with some Kosher salt + water at least 2″ above the tops of the beans. Cover with dish towel (because no one likes flies in their food) and set on your counter for up to 18 hours before you want to cook. Drain and rinse them before cooking.
The next day, they should look nice and plump like these lovelies. Pick out any bad ones – like that one rebel in the middle of my bowl. Poor little halfling. He’s gotta go.
It’s very not traditional to use chicken sausage, but I had to adjust the recipe to fit our diet. Regular andouille sausage is just a little too fatty for us, so I swapped it out for the andouille chicken sausage. Still tastes yummy and sausage-y to me! Feel free to use the real stuff though if you’re a purist.
Sauté the sausage in vegetable oil until it’s browned.
Throw in your vegetables and cook ’em down until they’re tender.
Add your spices, herbs, beans, and some water. Stir it up, cover it up, and make it boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a medium-low-low setting (no other technical way to say that) so that it’s at a bare simmer. Cover and cook for at least 3 hours or until beans are tender.
Serve with some white rice, your fave hot sauce, and garnish with green onions. Maybe even a little garlic toast on the side if you’re feeling crazy.
One other thing I love about Red Beans and Rice (at least this version) is that it’s relatively healthy. This recipe makes 6 big servings that come in at about 260 calories per serving with 5.7g fat and 29.4g protein (not counting rice). Not so bad for such a soul-filling dish.
Red Beans and Rice
1 lb. dry red kidney beans
1 tbs. vegetable oil
4 andouille chicken sausage links, sliced into discs
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
Freshly ground black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tbs. ground cayenne pepper (more or less depending on how hot you like it)
1/2 tbs. fresh sage, chopped
6 springs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 smoked ham hock (optional)*
Place beans in a large plastic or glass bowl with 2 tbs. Kosher salt. Add cold water until the beans are covered by at least 2”. Cover with a dish towel and let sit for at least 8 hours and up to 18. Drain and rinse with cold water.
Place beans in a large pot and cover to 2″ with cold water. Add 1 tbs. Kosher salt. Bring pot to a boil; lower to a simmer. Cook for about 1 hour or until beans are tender.
In a large Dutch oven or skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 5 minutes). Add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook until vegetables have softened, stirring occasionally (about 8 minutes). Add 3/4 tsp. Kosher salt and 10-15 grinds of black pepper (depending on how much spice you want). Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add cayenne pepper and sage, stir, and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add beans and 8 cups water, thyme, bay leaves, and ham hock (if using). Stir to combine, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a bare simmer (medium-low-low heat) and cook until beans are tender (about 3 hours).
Remove thyme stems, bay leaves and ham hock. Stir and cook an additional 20 minutes without the cover on. If the mixture is too thick, add 1/2 cup water, cook another 5 minutes. Repeat an additional time if necessary.
Garnish with green onions. Serve over white rice with hot sauce on the side.
*I usually can’t find a good ham hock, so I leave this out most of the time.
This freezes VERY well, so make a double batch and freeze some for later!