When grocery budgets tighten, it is no wonder that meals become simpler with the inclusion of worldwide staples like beans and rice. In my opinion, the folks in Louisiana have the right combination with the Creole classic, Red Beans & Rice. This simple dinner is not only easy on the budget, it is easy to prepare and easy to love. Made with homemade stock and a little spice to warm the soul, this triple-easy meal is full of flavor and substance to satisfy.
Don’t let the idea of spicy be a turn-off; this dish can be customized to fit any spice preference by reducing the amount of cayenne or substituting a more mild sausage or meat for the spicier andouille. In our house, we range from very mild to “please pass the hot sauce” so I go for a medium heat, making sure there is hot sauce on the table as well as milk available to put out the fire. The recipe below reflects this medium heat goal, so if you prefer a scorched earth type of meal, just kick-up the cayenne, and go with traditional andouille sausage all the way.
Red Beans and Rice
1 pound dry, small red beans — (about 2 cups)
6 slices bacon
1 medium onion — chopped fine (about 1 cup)
1 small green bell pepper — seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small red bell pepper — seeded and coarsely chopped
2 whole celery rib — chopped fine
2 whole carrots — coarsely chopped
4 medium garlic cloves — minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup parsley — fresh, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
8 cups chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1 /2 pound andouille sausage — halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4″ slices
1/2 pound garlic & basil sausage — halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4″ slices
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar — plus extra for seasoning
3 scallions — white and green parts, chopped
3 cups basic brown rice — cooked
Hot sauce (optional)
Soak beans at room temperature for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well. Place beans in a pot with enough water to cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours on med-low heat, or at a vigorous simmer. Add more water as needed. Once beans are soft and almost fully cooked, drain beans.
Heat bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and almost fully rendered, 5 to 8 minutes. Add onion, green pepper, celery, and carrot; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, and black pepper; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans, broth, and liquid smoke; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat and vigorously simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are just soft and liquid begins to thicken, 45 to 60 minutes.
While beans are cooking, grill or brown sausage in a skillet to warm through–do this even though the sausage is precooked to increase flavor. Slice sausage as directed and stir in sausage, 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, and parsley; cook until liquid is thickened and beans are fully tender and creamy, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt, black pepper, and additional red wine vinegar. Serve over rice, sprinkling with scallions and passing hot sauce separately, if desired.