Monday, September 5, 2011

Red Beans & Rice

I have no claim to Cajun Cuisine, other than a love for spicy foods. One of my favorites is the popular Red Beans and Rice. I have found that everyone seems to have their own recipe and heat preference, so I would love to share mine with you! Here's what you'll need:

For the Beans:
1 bag dry baby red beans
1 green bell pepper
1 white onion
6 stalks of celery
8-10 cups chicken stock
1 lb Conecuh sausage
12 oz. smoked ham
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup green onion
2 bay leaves
3 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
salt and pepper to taste

Rice: enough for however many you are serving!

So to get things started, you need to boil about 4 cups of water and pour it over the dry beans. Let them soak for at least 5 hours. (you can do this over night)

When finished soaking, they will swell and crack a bit. This is normal!

Now, we are going to get our "Holy Trinity" together. As I mentioned, people have their own versions of this, but I like to stick to celery, onion, and green bell pepper.
I like to get all the chopping out of the way at once, so when you are done with the veggies, grab your ham and sausage.
Cut the ham into small cubes and the sausage into quarter pieces.

Next, grab your big pot and add a tablespoon of oil. When it gets hot, put in your chopped ham and saute' it for a few minutes. When it is browned, add your chopped Holy Trinity.
You want to cook this mixture down until it becomes soft and nearly translucent. 15 minutes, medium heat. Now you can add your minced garlic.
Once this has cooked down a bit, add your sausage. I like the original Conecuh the best.
Allow this to get acquainted for a few minutes, then add your soaked beans, but not the water they were soaking in.
  Mix all of this together, then add your chicken stock. 
You want enough stock to cover the mixture completely, and then about an inch over.
And now we wait! Add your bay leaves and spices, and let this simmer for about 45 minutes on medium heat, then add a lid, turn to low, and simmer for about an hour and a half.

Keep an eye on it, and stir it every so often. When the beans have become soft, use a spoon to smash them on the sides of the pot. You can do this as little or as much as you like. The more you smash, the thicker it becomes. (I like it pretty thick!)

 When it reaches this point, you can start your rice. A little trick to give plain rice some flavor: add a chicken bullion cube to the pot while it cooks. Yum!

Also, now is a good time to add your fresh parsley. Mix it well, and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Ah! Finally, time to eat! Ladle some beans onto a plate or bowl, then scoop on some rice. Garnish with chopped green onions.