Thursday, December 29, 2016

Red Beans and Rice #13CajunBites


This quintessential New Orleans dish, holds a special place in my heart. When R was a toddler, he wasn't very good at sitting still for dinner. He would take one bite, run away from the table, come back, take one more bite, and leave again. The sole exception to this pattern was when my mom and dad picked up red rice and beans from a local restaurant. R loved it, sat through the entire meal, and devoured his entire bowl.

So, when we were planning the Cajun menu for D's birthday party, R excitedly agreed to make the red beans and rice. I used the Domingo Rojo beans from Rancho Gordo, one of my favorites! I used to buy a ton of dried beans whenever we were at the Ferry Building in San Francisco till I discovered them at Happy Girl Kitchen here in Pacific Grove. Woohoo.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried red beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 C diced organic white onion (you can use yellow, too)
  • 1 C diced organic green bell pepper
  • 1 C diced organic celery
  • 5 or 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 to 1-1/2 pound sausages (we used a mixture of duck sausages and rabbit sausages)
  • 1 to 2 t fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 to 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T Creole seasoning + more to taste
  • hot sauce to taste
  • freshly ground pepper to taste
  • freshly ground salt to taste
  • cooked rice for serving


Procedure
Because the kids were assembling this meal - and eating it - with in a 2 hour window, I presoaked and precooked the beans. Read how to cook dried beans. If you are not precooking, this dish will take about 4 hours from start to finish. 

Once the beans are cooked to your desired softness, drain and set aside.

If your sausages aren't precooked, boil until firm. Then cut on the bias and set aside.

In a large souppot, melt butter in the olive oil. Sauté the onions, celery, and bell pepper until the onions are translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook for another few minutes. Add in the sausage slices and cook until you have some browning on them.

Spoon in the beans. Add in the thyme, bay, and Creole seasoning. Pour in enough water to cover the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for - at least - an hour. Stir occasionally so that the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pan.

While the beans are cooking, cook your rice. After about an hour, use a potato masher to smash some of the beans. You will want some smashed and some whole. Stir in the cooked rice. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and hot sauce, if desired. Serve hot.

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