Red Beans & Rice

Like any other classic Southern dish, Red Beans & Rice recipes (and non recipes) vary and are as unique as the person preparing them. A dish that is steeped in South Louisiana and family traditions, no one makes their red beans exactly the same. Here is my take. Use this recipe as a guide, but know that everything – from measurements to list of ingredients – are all open to interpretation. Experiment and make it your own!

Red Beans

Let’s start with some history about the dish du jour – don’t worry, the test will be open book. Whenever researching for a recipe (especially one heavily rooted in traditions and variations) I like to look not only at various recipes, but how the origins of the dish came about. Traditionally, red beans & rice was served on Monday. Sunday dinner (Yankees, read “lunch”) was usually a ham, and the leftovers were perfect for the red beans. Monday was also “wash day” where women would spend all day scrubbing clothes. By hand. I guess I should stop griping to The Man about my outdated washing machine….I could always be washing by hand! Red Beans & Rice was an “easy” dish that could sit on the stove all day and make for a yummy supper (Yankees, read “dinner”) at the end of a long soggy day.

History lesson over (you all get an A). Now to talk about ingredients. As mentioned above, leftover ham is ideal. But personally, I don’t bake a ham every Sunday….I might bake 2 a year. So let’s consider the other options. Store bought ham, bacon, sausage, ham hock, salt pork, pickled pork….do you see the trend here? Pig. Cured pig of some sort. You can find recipes using various combinations of the above pork products. Some recipes call for serving the meat on the side. Some call for meat in the beans and a pork chop on the side. I like andouille sausage and smoked ham hocks. That’s assuming it doesn’t happen to be one of two days of the year I’ve made a ham.

Red Beans meat

After browning your choice of pig products, we move on to the veggies – onion, celery and bell pepper. I dice mine small so that they melt into the final product – I’m not a fan of vegetable chunks in my red beans. Lightly caramelize the veg in the rendered pork fat and a little butter. Use a fly swatter to shoe away friends and family who may have gravitated towards the kitchen smells – you don’t want anyone drooling on the stove.

Red Beans all in the pot

I hope you read this article yesterday and started soaking your red beans….if not, I guess you’ll have to start now and eat tomorrow (or do the quick soak method. Or use canned beans). Personally, I like the small red beans. But kidney beans, or a combination of both, works great too.

Red Beans Bring to a boil and reduce to simmer

Deglaze your pan with a cup of stock. Scrape up any flavor stuck to the bottom, then add all your ingredients to the pot – meats, beans, liquid, herbs and spices. Bring it to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let it go for about two hours. Or maybe three. Four? The beans are done when they’re done….so sit back and relax. But come back to stir and drool from time to time.

Red Beans half way through

I want my red beans to be melt in your mouth creamy. A long, slow, consistent cooking time should guarantee this. But if you want to speed it along, you can mash up some of the beans. Also keep an eye out for dry beans – don’t be afraid to add some more liquid as needed. If you don’t happen to like creamy red beans, and want a little more bite to them, you might want to consider reducing the amount of liquid. You can always add more later.

Red Beans

Now it’s time to serve! Because there’s so much flavor packed it the red beans, I like to keep the rice simple. A little butter, salt and a bay leaf. Scoop some rice in your bowl and top it with a generous portion of the beans. Sprinkle it with some green onion (or chives) and serve with a bottle of hot sauce.

Red Beans Over Rice with Corn Bread

Notice that I didn’t garnish my red beans with any highfalutin greenery. Not that I’m opposed! But it was the final minutes of a very nerve-racking Saints and Patriots game. I scrambled to fix my plate (you folks are lucky to have a final picture!) after Kenny Stills caught a touchdown pass to give the Saints a 1 point lead in the final 3 minutes! We won’t talk about what happened after that…..but at least I enjoyed my red beans!

Red Beans & Rice

  • 1 Lb. small red beans (dried)
  • 1 Lb. Andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 Lb. smoked ham hocks
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 – 2 green onions, minced
  • 1/4 C. parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 T. oregano (dried)
  • 2 – 3 tsp. Cajun seasoning
  • 3 – 4 bay leaves
  • 3 C, chicken stock
  • 3 C. water
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, cover dried beans with water. Cover and soak over night. Drain and set aside.

In a large Dutch oven (or heavy bottomed pot) sauté sausage. Remove, leaving behind drippings. Add in the butter and sauté onion, celery and bell pepper until lightly caramelized. Add in garlic, parsley, green onions, dried herbs, spices, salt and pepper and sauté for 1-2 minutes.

Deglaze the pot with 1 cup of the chicken stock. With a wooden spoon, scrape the bottom of the pot. Pour in water, stock, ham hocks, sausage and beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook (uncovered) for 2 to 4 hours, or until desired consistency is reached. If needed, smash some of the beans in the last half hour of cooking.

Serve over white rice with Corn Bread.

Ya’ll want my Corn Bread recipe?? It’s pretty darn good….

Sweet Skillet Corn Bread

  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 C. yellow corn meal
  • 1 C. flour
  • 2 ears of corn, kernals scraped
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 – 2 C. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425F. In a seasoned cast iron skillet, heat butter over medium high heat. Butter should be very hot, but not smoking. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients and corn kernels. Whisk in egg and oil. Add 1 cup of buttermilk and stir. Slowly add more as needed until consistency is thick but smooth. Pour batter into hot skillet and smooth out the top. Transfer skillet to the preheated oven, and bake until golden brown and cooked through (about 25 minutes). A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean

Getting Saucy & Getting Fit

The Man and I recently started a new workout routine. “Workout routine” is kind of an understatement…more like The Man and I have chosen to get our asses handed to us every day for the next 60 days and we love it! And even though we walked into this with no real intentions of changing our diet, we have both been craving more protein and more fresh veggies. So for dinner last night it was Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce and a heaping pile of Snow Pea Salad on the side. Full of flavor and color, everyone can get into this healthy meal – even if you aren’t working on your beachbody.

Chicken Satay with Snow Pea Salad

I found this recipe for Snow Pea Salad on Pinterest a few months back. The dressing is simple, and the ingredients are fresh and crisp. If you can’t find fresh snow peas, sugar snap peas would be a good substitute. And I couldn’t find fresh edamame beans (frozen just won’t work for this dish) so I skipped them. And the only yellow peppers I could find were the size of my head….so I went with orange. But that is kind of the beauty of this recipe – you can modify it endlessly. Thin sliced mushrooms, cilantro, diced avocado, baby corn…any and all would make awesome additions!

Chicken Satay Marinade

Anyone can put chicken on a stick and throw it over the hot coals….but to get this chicken extra tender and full of flavor, I suggest marinating it for a couple of hours before cooking time. I was happy to find thin sliced chicken breasts at my store (and on sale!) which I just had to cut into 2-ish inch strips. If you can’t find these, no worries. You can always slice your chicken in half lengthwise – just be sure to use a sharp knife and take your time to get two even halves. Marinate the chicken for about 6 hours before draining and threading onto the wooden skewers.

Grilled Chicken with Peanut Sauce

Since the chicken is thin, it won’t take long to grill. Towards the end of the cooking time, it’s time to get saucy. Brush a thin layer of the peanut sauce on one side, flip them over, and let the sauce cook on for a minute or so. Then do the same with the other side. Alternatively, you could serve the peanut sauce on the side and let people dip to their liking. I did both….because I can’t get enough peanut sauce!

Chicken Satay with Snow Pea Salad2

Did you make too much peanut sauce, and need a good idea on how to use it?? Try a Thai Chicken Pizza!

Satay Marinade

  • 1 lb. chicken breasts, 1/2″ thick and 2″ wide
  • 3 T. soy sauce
  • 2 T. seasame oil
  • 1 T. Tabasco sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. Chinese 5 spice
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed 
  • 1/2 C. water

Combine all ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Refrigerate for 6+ hours.

Peanut Sauce

  • 1/4 C. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 – 1/2 C. chicken stock (or water)
  • 1 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger (powder or freshly grated)
  • 1/2 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Heat up oil in a small sauce pan. Saute garlic for about 2 minutes. Add in peanut butter and remaining ingredients. Allow to simmer then remove from heat. You want the sauce to be slightly runny. Set aside until ready to use.

Grilled Chicken Satay

  • Marinated chicken, drained
  • Wooden skewers (one per chicken piece)
  • Peanut sauce

Run a wooden skewer through each piece of chicken. On a medium heat grill, cook chicken until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side). Brush peanut sauce on each side, cooking for another minute per side. Remove from heat and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Pork Taquitos

It’s the end of the week, and I need a dish to use up the rest of this pork butt. The ripe avocados on the kitchen sill are also screaming to be devoured. Not to mention it’s Thursday (the ultimate day to enjoy a margarita) – so something with a Mexican flare is definitely a must! Mexican Night is always a good way to use up leftover meat. Pot roast, grilled chicken, pork butt….all can be quickly and easily refabbed into an awesome weeknight meal.

Baked Pork Taquito

We tend to shy away from corn tortillas. Not because I don’t like them….but because the first time I made them for The Man, I made an awful dish. I had never bought soft corn tortillas before, and I pretty much just treated them like flour tortillas – big mistake. Soft corn tortillas have a nasty raw corn taste. They have to be cooked  fried for them to be palatable. Ever since that one snafu, The Man has vetoed the use of corn tortillas in his dinner plans. But today, I convinced him it was me – not them. We’ll see how round 2 goes!

Mexican Rice

Pork Taquitos

  • 2 C. cooked pork (substitute chicken or beef)
  • 6 Oz. beer (any lager, or light beer)
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1/4 c. salsa
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 T. cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 8 Oz. shredded cheese
  • Canola oil

In a saute pan, combine meat, beer, salsa, and cumin. Bring to a simmer, reduce to low, and cook until meat is in small shreds. Remove from heat and drain any excess liquid. Fold in cilantro

For assembly : Heat tortillas in the microwave until pliable (about 30 seconds). Working one tortilla at a time, place 1 ounce of cheese and 1/8 of meat onto bottom half of tortilla. Roll taquito tightly. Place seam side down in a greased baking dish. Repeat until all 8 taquitos are rolled. If tortillas start to break, reheat them.

Lightly brush each taquito with canola oil. Bake in a 400F oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until crispy and starting to brown.

Serve Taquitos with Mexican Rice, Guacamole, salsa and sour cream.

Mexican Rice

  • 1 C. white rice
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/4 C. salsa
  • 1 C. chicken stock
  • 3/4 C. water
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

In a medium pot, melt butter. Saute rice in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add in all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Stir, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Remove rice from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Remove lid and fluff rice with a fork.

Guacamole

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Slice avocados in half. Remove seed and scoop flesh out with a spoon. Add remaining ingredients, mash/mix avocado with a fork. Serve immediately.

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