You know I love Cajun and Creole cooking. And today I want to share my easy red beans and rice recipe.
I also want to talk about the more traditional albeit more time-consuming method as well.
Either way, if you haven’t had it before then I think you’re in for a treat.
This a Cajun (not Creole) dish.
And as legend has it, down in Louisiana, on Mondays you always served red beans and rice. It was laundry day and this dish is perfect to sit on the back of the stove and slow-cook all day long without anyone needing to pay attention to it.
By the way, don’t let the quantities scare you. My recipe serves 6. You can easily cut this in half.
But let’s begin at the beginning. The red beans are kidney beans.
The least expensive option is typically dried beans (like the picture below). Before you do anything, comb through them with your hands and remove any that are soft and any other debris that might have gotten sorted in. Then, all things according to plan, cover them with water in a dutch oven and let them soak overnight to soften. If you miss that window, bring the water to a boil, remove from the heat, and let sit covered for an hour. You won’t get quite as much of the starchy goodness but it works.
But if all you have are canned beans, then you can still pull this off reasonably well. Though it can be a little tricky. If the liquid they’re packed in tastes okay, use it and you’ll have some starch to work with.
If it’s a bit… metallic and stale tasting? Rinse the beans in a strainer or colander. Add a quart of stock or broth, chicken or vegetable, from the freezer or pantry to compensate for the lost flavor bean starchy liquid. You’ll also want to thicken it a bit at the end. I like to use a couple tablespoons of potato starch (you could also use corn starch) dissolved in a cup of warm water then added to the boiling pot at the end.
Note: 1 pound of dried beans, soaked and cooked = about 3 15oz cans of cooked beans.
For the meat, I like andouille sausage if I have it or a regular smoked sausage works too. More traditionally, you’d use the leftover ham bone and meat from suppertime the night before. Right or wrong, and I lean both ways on this one, I don’t have a leftover ham bone on Monday morning.
The rest is vegetables, rice, and spices.
Always the trinity: onion, celery, and green bell pepper. Plus garlic and green onions.
The bay leaf, of course. And the spices. Now, this is my creole/cajun spice blend. You could also use one pre-mixed from the grocery shelves.
I mix the spices in a small container, shake well to mix, and then use one or two tablespoons. I keep that shaker with the other spices and use it on fish, chicken, or even vegetables as the spirit moves me.
If your sausage is spicy already, cut back on the spice mix. Remember, like salt, you can always add more but it’s impossible to take it back out.
Slice the sausage into coins. Then add a glug of oil to a hot fry pan over medium heat and brown your sausage. Turn as needed. Remove to the pot with the beans using a slotted spoon to leave that seasoned oil in the pan.
Now add your chopped trinity vegetables and saute until just tender. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Put this in the pot.
Deglaze the pan with a little cold water, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom, and add all of that to the big pot too. We don’t want to lose any of that flavor.
Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and let cook for two to two-and-a-half hours. (Or an hour if you’re using canned beans.)
Stir in the chopped green onion (just the green part) at the end.
Taste it. Adjust the salt if needed — it might not be. But please, now’s the time to taste it and adjust.
Serve with hot sauce if desired!
Easy Red Beans and Rice
Easy Red Beans and Rice. As in Big Easy, easy to make, or just easy to love? All three, I'd say. Visit suppertimeblues.com to learn more.
- 1 pound dried kidney beans Or 3 15oz cans.
- 2 tablespoons oil I use canola.
- 1 pound andouille or smoked sausage
- 1 onion, diced
- 2-3 celery stalks, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, finely-chopped
- 1 bunch green onions, sliced tops
- 2 cups long-grain rice Should yield 6 cups cooked.
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt Use half as much if table salt.
- 1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Thoroughly remove any debris from the dried beans. Soak the beans in water overnight to soften.
Slice the sausage into coins.
Dice the onion. Slice the celery. Dice the green bell pepper. Finely-chop the garlic.
Rub the oregano and thyme between your fingers or even in your palms to reduce it to a powder. Then, mix all of the dry spices together in some sort of convenient container. Label this Suppertime Blues Magic Powder.
Heat a fry pan over medium-high heat. Add the oil and the sausage coins. Turn as necessary until browned (not burned, watch it).
Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon to the pot with the beans.
Cook the onion, celery, and green bell pepper in the fry pan. Sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt. Cook until the vegetables are just tender. About 8-10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Spoon the vegetables into the pot with the beans and sausage.
Deglaze the pan with a few spoons of water, scraping loose the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, and pour all of that into the pot as well.
Add the bay leaf and one tablespoon of the spice mix. If your sausage is not spicy, add another tablespoon of the mix.
Bring everything to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and let everything cook, covered, for two to two-and-a-half hours. (Or an hour if you're using canned beans.)
Cook your rice according to directions about half-way in. It usually takes about half-an-hour.
Stir in the chopped green onions.
Taste. Adjust salt and seasonings if needed.
We got this guy on our very first trip to New Orleans, which had to be at least twenty-five years ago. He sits atop a kitchen cabinet all these years watching over the cooking.
Laissez les bons temps rouler!