Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Red Beans & Rice

"Beans and rice, beans and rice; Momma even serves us sometimes twice!"

Those of you of a certain age will remember this song, along with "Hanker for a hunka cheese." These were a lame attempt at co-opting the success of Schoolhouse Rock for nutritional use.

Which isn't so day that the attempt was completely useless. I do still remember the songs. But I didn't take the messages to heart. I was married before I started eating cheese anywhere other than on a pizza, and it wasn't until I started cooking that I started eating beans & rice. Let's just say late 20's and have done with it, okay?

But these days, I love red beans & rice. I love making it almost as much as I love eating it. My wife is not a big RBR fan, so it's a rare treat when she nods, like a queen of old, and deigns to allow its appearance at table. Tonight was such a night.

While I was in the middle of cooking, my sister called to chat. I told her what I was making, and she said it sounded yummy (and she was right), so I'm posting the recipe for her and for y'all, just in case you want to make it yourself.

Some words of warning. First, I like food to taste good, not necessarily to be good for you. I use things like bacon in recipes. Heart-healthy, this ain't.

Second, I'm a bit of a food snob. When I say use smoked sausage or bacon, I mean use the real thing. Forget turkey sausage or turkey bacon. If you use those when cooking this recipe, you will unwittingly open a portal to hell, and all the scary things from Doom 3 will come out and mess up your kitchen.

This recipe will make enough for 4 healthy-eating adults (and you know who you are). Kids probably won't eat this. Only Stephen ate any tonight, but he'll eat anything to get two cookies.

First, make the rice. I like short-grain, sticky rice. Uncle Ben's is right-out.
You'll need:
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup rice
  • Old Bay (that's right, put Old Bay in the rice; if that's not your style, fine by me, but you're probably not going to like the rest of this)
  1. In a big saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
  2. Add rice and a dash of Old Bay.
  3. Stir rice until the water boils again, then reduce heat to low and cover.
  4. Simmer rice for 15 minutes, then stir again.
  5. Remove from heat and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.
While that's going on, you can be cutting stuff for the red beans part. You'll need:
  • A little oil (1 tbsp? I use olive oil, and I can't really explain why)
  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into little squares
  • One medium or large onion (depending on how much you like onions), sliced into half-rings
  • Garlic (I use 5-7 cloves, but I like garlic; the boys are probably immune to it by now), smashed and diced
  • 2 smoked sausages (use good ones; this is an important part), cut into 1/2 in chunks
  • Chicken bouillon cube
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 2 cans of red beans (light or dark, it doesn't matter)
  • Old Bay
Note: I hate celery. Seriously, we're talking Kroger-hate here. So I never put celery in anything. But if you like celery, it might be good in this. I wouldn't know, because I hate celery.

  1. Heat oil in a big (12 in?) skillet or pot on medium heat
  2. Add bacon and brown until you have a lot of bacon grease in the pan (leave the bacon in there; it tastes good)
  3. Add your onion and garlic and stir a lot. Keep stirring until the onion gets soft and translucent (I cook mine until the onion is browned and very soft; if you like gnawing on onion slices, cook it less)
  4. Add a dash of Old Bay and mix it into the onions while they're cooking
  5. Add sausage and brown it
  6. Add another dash of Old Bay and stir to make sure the sausage gets some, too
  7. Add water, wine, and the bouillon cube (make sure you scrape the bottom of the pan once the water's boiling; that's extra flavor down there)
  8. Once the water's boiling, add the beans and a final dash of Old Bay. Stir to mix the beans in with everything else, put a lid on it, drop the heat to low, and go wait for the kids to get home from Karate (about 15-30 minutes)
You'll want the beans to start coming apart, so stir a few times. Serve the red beans and pot likker over the rice, probably in bowls.

By the way, you can pretty much use this same recipe to make black beans and rice. Use chicken instead of sausage, and omit the bacon and Old Bay. Also, brown the chicken whole, remove it and dice it, then put it back in with the beans.


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