Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Saved by red beans and rice

To celebrate Mardi Gras, I decided to try and to make gumbo.

I failed.

It wasn’t the fault of the recipe, I just don’t think I’m hard-wired to stand in front of a stove for an hour stirring flour and oil to make a roux—there’s just no pleasure in that for me at all. So since I had the ingredients on hand, I decided instead to make red beans and rice. Now that’s a Louisiana dish I can understand.


At my house when I was a kid, we ate a lot of beans. Weekly, we’d have pinto bean night, bean salad night and red beans and rice night. The latter was my favorite, as mom slow cooked the beans with sausage, lots of spices and love.

Now, our Texas version of red beans and rice used pinto beans and kielbasa whereas the Louisiana version has little red beans or kidney beans alongside ham or andouille sausage. But no matter, after you cook the beans long enough the flavors come together in very similar ways.

Red beans and rice is traditionally served on Mondays in New Orleans. This goes back to when people had a hambone leftover from Sunday dinner, and Monday being washday, cooks needed a slow-simmering dish that didn’t call for a lot of fuss as they were cleaning clothes.

Of course, I’m fairly certain that anytime is a fine time for red beans and rice. And with just enough attention, after a few hours you are left with a flavorful, creamy dish that sticks to your bones and warms you to the core.



But the best thing is that you it practically makes itself, so you can busy yourself with other more important things, such as visiting with friends or reading a book, instead of being a slave to the skillet. And after a few hours, you can return to the pot and dinner will be served.

Red beans and rice

Ingredients:
16 oz. red beans, soaked
1 tablespoon of bacon grease (can substitute canola or olive oil if you prefer)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, diced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 pound of andouille sausage, cubed
1/2 cup of parsley, minced
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of dried thyme or 1 sprig fresh
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
Cayenne, salt and black pepper to taste
2 smoked ham hocks
8 cups of chicken broth or water
4 green onions, green part chopped (save the white for another use)
6 cups of cooked rice

Method:
After cleaning and sorting, soak your beans in water overnight.

In a large pot on medium heat, sauté in bacon grease the onion, celery and bell pepper for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and sausage to the pot and cook for two minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pot except for the green onions.

Turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Let it boil for 20 minutes and then turn the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 40 minutes.

After 40 minutes, take off the lid, stir the pot and continue to let it simmer for two hours. You might check back on it every once in a while to make sure there’s still enough liquid in the pot.

At this time, test your beans—they should be soft, but if not, continue to cook on low until they are.

When the beans are ready, with a wooden spoon smash a few of them against the side of the pot—this will make your beans extra creamy.

Pour the beans over rice, and garnish with the green onions. A few shakes of some Louisiana hot sauce such as Tabasco or Crystal is a good addition as well.

Serves six

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70 comments:

lisaiscooking said...

I'm actually having the Texas version (pinto beans--but with chicken sausage) for dinner tonight! Beans and rice are just a great combination.

Miss Meat and Potatoes said...

Facebook seems to be filled with status updates of southern friends whooping it up making gumbo. To add insult to injury we tried to do some work at Hill Country last night and it was so packed, we had to hoof it across the street to the Hog Pit, who doesn't even carry Lone Star anymore! Is it a sign to move back home? This looks delicious, as always!

Jumper said...

I see you are using an appropriate red pepper sauce on the side. I think the flavor of white oak in the Tabasco is good here. I've been keeping my eye out for any other hot sauce also aged in oak. The only other I have found is Pickapeppa. Which is, of course, the wrong sauce for this recipe.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

A delicious dish! Very healthy and tasty!

Cheers,

Rosa

Yoyo said...

Another recipe from my childhood ... and you're right, red beans and rice on Monday night!! I'm not sure it ever 'looked' as good as in your photo, but I do know it tasted as good as this recipe sounds.

Barking Dogs said...

I am a failure at beans lately. Red beans and rice came out miserable and ended up in the garbage disposal .. and I can't figure out how I screwed it up!

Alisa - Frugal Foodie said...

What beautiful photography. It looks (and sounds) so simple yet flavorful.

rachel said...

According to my mother, if it doesn't feel like your arm is about to fall off, your roux isn't brown enough.

I stick with rb&r myself.

Jennifer said...

Because I ardently refuse to serve team-themed food for the Superbowl, this year I made red beans and rice. Sometimes, this dish is even more comforting than chili, especially when it's made with pickled pork. If you don't already have the pink New Orleans Cookbook (Rima and Richard Collin), find yourself a copy--worth it for the gumbo recipes alone. I'm sure Kitchen Arts and Letters carries it.

Happy Fat Tuesday!

California Country said...

Can we get the pinto beans and kielbasa recipe too???? I can get kielbasa in bulk, super cheap and this would certainly be a helper in these thin times.

Culinarywannabe said...

So funny - I just posted this morning about my failed attempts to make gumbo as well! I'm glad I'm not the only one. :) Red beans and rice was a staple in my family too. Yummy!

Tommy said...

Always been a favourite.Since we have a large Jamaican population in Toronto, you often get your "peas" & rice made with coconut milk as an ingredient. I know real Tex Mex cooks worldwide are turning their noses up, but it really works.

And don't give up on the gumbo.The key is the roux and getting it dark and chocolately. You will figure it out.

M. Housman said...

I love your posts. My friend (a misplaced Texan in MI) has found your blog a comfort when she is homesick as well.

Innkeeper Seely said...

10 years after leaving Houston I still crave the food. Your recipe list looks like my long lost clip files from the newspapers. Don't bother looking for Tex-Mex in Rhode Island. What they serve is so bland and uninspired that infants would send it back to the kitchen. (unless I'm looking in all the wrong places and someone can clue me in...)

Paula Maack said...

I love red beans and rice, Lisa! Yum!! And, I hear you on the roux. I don't have the patience for it, either.

I blogged about a much simpler Louisiana seafood recipe: Shrimmp and Grits, should you be interested. It is rich, satisfying, very New Orleans, and only takes less than a half hour to make.

I'll swap you a bowl for some of those great looking red beans and rice!

Happy Mardi Gras! Laissez les bons temps rouler!

~ Paula

Anonymous said...

Red beans and rice has become a weekly dish in our household recently. I make mine with kielbasa, and I've discovered, oddly enough, that I prefer turkey kielbasa to the traditional pork. Who knew? Anyhow, the whole family loves it, even the baby! I leave out the Tabasco for him, though :)

Chicken Fried Gourmet said...

smoked ham hocks are also good when making homemade BBQ sauce :)

Chris said...

You'll roux the day you tried to make gumbo! ha ha ha

But I'd love the red beans and rice, great job!

lisadelrio said...

Yes you can make gumbo! Last Saturday, I made some of the best gumbo I've ever eaten. I read your blog regularly and you're a better cook than me. If I can make a roux, so can you. (It only took 25 minutes of stirring.)

Versailles Rose said...

I'll take red beans and rice any day!

jbeach said...

Yum! I'm going to make this recipe this week for sure. Thanks for posting it!
I have an abundance of rice left over from a stir fry yesterday and this will be perfect.
Take a gander at this post if you want super simple instructions on making perfect sticky rice, every time! Not sure if you want sticky rice with red beans, but I do!! :)

Anonymous said...

Don't use red kidney beans. Use the little red beans. Kidney beans don't get tender enough.

Robin said...

There is just something completely satisfying about a bowl of beans and rice. The creaminess of the beans and the smoothness of the rice. For me, the texture of food counts alot and beans and rice has a great texture that I love. Some people like crunch but I love that creamy, sticky texture.

Vidya said...

Sounds great, but is there any way to make this vegetarian? Can I replace the sausage with something else for flavour, or just omit it all together?

Frank in Indiana said...

STOP IT!!!!
JUST STOP IT !!!!!
I open up my morning email, after a unsatisfying breakfast, and I see THIS!!!!!
The only thing that could have been worse would have been a big ole hunk of cornbread beside the bowl.
You are playing with our emotions, young lady. LOL

tbsamsel said...

Cher, if stirrin' roux for an hour or so is anathematic, you need to put some chankachank on the box, like Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys...

Or put cajunradio on the puter..

http://www.cajunradio.org/bandsall.html

pooyi!

Larry said...

I love your succinct description of your Gumbo experience

Joe Gracey said...

Clifton Chenier on the box. My recipe for pre-browned flour for dark roux. Check my blog later today. Takes all of the standing around out of the mix and leaves the fun part.

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Lisa is cooking--Aren't they a great combination? And pintos with chicken sausage sounds wonderful!

Miss Meat and Potatoes--All you can eat meat and sides? No wonder it was so crowded!

Jumper--I didn't know that Tabasco was aged in white oak--very interesting!

Rosa--I hadn't thought about it being healthy, but I guess it is!

Yoyo--Food like this is never much of a looker, but it sure is comforting.

Alisa--Thank you! It's very flavorful!

Rachel--Ah, good to know for the next time I attempt to make gumbo.

Jennifer--Pickled pork? This I have to try!

California Country--That's easy--just make a pot of these pinto beans and then throw some sliced kielbasa into the pot and let it cook together for a while.

Culinarywannabe--Gumbo can be tricky!

Tommy--Oh, that sounds wonderful--I love coconut milk! And don't worry, I'm a very persistent person so I'm going to keep trying to make gumbo.

M. Houseman--Thank you! I'm glad y'all are enjoying the blog!

Inkeeper Seely--Don't think I can help you about Tex-Mex in Rhode Island. Sadly, I find that's the case all over the Northeast.

Paula Maack--I love shrimp and grits! I can't wait to try it!

Anon--I have a confession to make--I use turkey andouille and actually prefer it, too as it's less fatty.

Chicken Fried Gourmet--Oooo! I bet they do with all their smoky, porky goodness! I can't wait to try that!

Chris--Ha! And thanks!

Lisa Delrio--Thanks for the pep talk--looks like I need to try it again.

Versailles Rose--Good stuff, isn't it?

JBeach--Never made sticky rice but I love to eat it!

Anon--Thanks for the tip!

Robin--It's like baby food for adults.

Vidya--Sure, it will still be flavorful without the sausage and hamhocks. Just dial up the herbs and maybe throw in some smoked paprika or chipotles for smokiness.

Frank--Whew--I knew I made a good decision leaving the cornbread out of the photo--we wouldn't want to tease you too much!

TBSamsel--See, I was listening to Louis Armstrong and that must be where I went wrong!

Larry--Brevity is the soul of wit!

Joe--Awesome--I can't wait to try it your way because gumbo should be fun, right?

catherine at unconfidentialcook.com said...

Some stirring is worth it! Risotto...and this! Thank you!

Southern Chateau said...

Lisa, I have recently found your blog and I am definitely hooked. I am a born and bred East Tennessean and I am absolutely amazed at the similarities between Tennessee and Texas cooking. I know we are sister states and that many of your early settlers came from Tennessee. So sometimes I think Tennessee should get a little credit for some of these awesome foods! Anyway, I love Tex-Mex as well and I think the two types of foods, Southern and Tex-Mex, complement each other so well. Thanks for the beautiful photography and recipes.

ECM said...

You should try baking the roux for gumbo. It gets dark without all the stirring because of the uniform heat source.

I love your recipes!! Keep it up.

Pear Shaped Circle said...

I think I've seen Paula Deen say she bakes her roux. Can't find her recipe, but here's one submitted by Maw Maw Ruby. http://www.realcajunrecipes.com/recipes/cajun/oven-made-roux/927.rcr

Anonymous said...

To get the flour infused into the water or milk for bisquits and gravy. Take a jar - wide mouth preferred pour in the cold cold water and then the flour. Shake and shake and when you cant see any lumps - remove the lid and fork the water to check for any flour clinging to the edege of the jar. Put in your pan and cook down. I find this is a cleaner way to put the flour and water mix together. When making roux. Cook it one day. put it into a jar and then use it the next day in the recipe. A 2 day process works better on time. If you make a bunch ahead of time then you get off your feet in record time! Best Wishes from the Great State of Texas! 80+ degrees here today!!!

Cynthia said...

Ummmm, this is totally yummy. One day when I have the time I want to try making the gumbo but I totally understand what you mean about the time.

This week I made the Jamaican version of this dish for an upcoming column. They call it stew peas.

Liz in Beaumont said...

I know I may get blasted for this, but forget making your own roux. Douget's makes a jarred version that suits me and my husband just fine, and we are very picky when it comes to gumbo. (And you'll support a local Texas business, so bonus!)

http://www.doguets.com/

Paula said...

Anything cooked in bacon grease sounds good to me! I don't think I've ever had a true beans and rice dish. This sounds so good, especially with all the sausage and seasonings. I'm so glad you decided to make this instead! YUM!

Mr Spooky said...

I love your blog, it was recommended to me by: http://www.screweduptexan.com/

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Catherine--Risotto is definitely worth stirring.

Southern Chateau--Some of my ancestors came from Tennessee so I totally believe your theory.

ECM--I will have to try that!

Pear Shaped Circle--Another vote for baked roux!

Anon--Interesting technique, I've never heard of that but am willing to give it a go.

Cynthia--Someone else mentioned stew peas--can't wait to make a batch!

Liz in Beaumont--My Cajun friend also buys his roux, says it doesn't really matter.

Paula--I don't know how authentic my red beans and rice is, but I enjoy it!

Mr. Spooky--Thanks for stopping by!

Karen said...

I stand over the stove and stir my roux until it's a beautiful, dark, velvettey color. My husband put his oil and flour in a black cast iron pot, stirs it together and walks out of the kitchen. He'll come back and stir it two or three times "just checking" and walk out again. Makes me crazy - he makes a perfect roux everytime. The one time i tried his method i burned the roux. I now have him make his roux so i don't have to stand in the kitchen.

Sharon said...

I've heard that if you use less oil to make the roux (drier) that it cooks faster. Which is probably true, but I guarantee I'll burn it. So I stick to half oil/half flour. And stand there forever. Still worth it.
Alton Brown (Good Eats) made some in the oven one time. Turned a decent brick color, so might be worth looking into.

Shoshanah said...

I love red beans and rice! The boy, being from Louisiana, makes it really well. I believe he does normally use red beanns and kidney beans

Farmer Jen said...

Wonderful recipe! Thank you for posting it. Makes me hungry.

Anonymous said...

Living in San Diego I have never tried authentic red beans and rice before. I have only tried it from a store bought box. I couldn't resist trying out this recipe since it looked so good. I am so glad I did. I made this tonight and it was absolutely delicious. This recipe is a keeper. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

To one of my favorite Texans, and to all displaced Texans around the world:
Happy Texas Independence Day!

May we take a moment of silence to remember some of the greatest independent Texans that ever graced our land: Molly Ivans, I bet God hasn't stopped laughing since you arrived. Between you and Ann Richards he has his hands full. But I'm sure Lady Bird is keeping both of you on your toes.

Keep our taste buds popping! Thanks!
Texann

Debra said...

Happy Texas Independence Day. :)

Taking inspiration from two of your posts, I made a big ol' pot of red beans with andouille...and served it over cornbread. Very tasty!

Robin said...

We too are transplants and homesick - living in Central PA (me) and my children (WDC). My mother and sister live in Portland, OR. I grew up in a small town in OK just 30 mi NE of Wichita Falls, TX and then on to OU in Norman, OK. We all miss the Chicken Fried Steak, Tex-Mex, beans and cornbread, catfish, fried chicken, pecan pie...We pine for it on a regular basis.
So to celebrate Texas Independence Day - my son came up and we made Chicken Fried Steak w/gravy, mashed potatoes, corn, and banana pudding (we grew up on vanilla wafers in our version) and planned our next meal...I remember my own Independence Day when I turned 18 and crossed the TX border so that I could have a "real drink". Guess I'm dating myself...Absolutely LOVE your website. Thank you for a bit of home.

chrisq said...

I was watching Paul Pruhomme on TV last week and he showed a quick fool proof way of making roux. He heated the oil first in a cast iron skillet, got it really hot, and then carefully added the flour in all at once stirred three or four times and it was magically a chocolate roux. Sure took the work out of it.

Lisa said...

Tagging this right away! Thanks.

amanda said...

Would it be a total sin to use canned beans? And if that's ok, when do you think I should add them and how long to cook? Normally when I make red beans and rice with canned beans I simmer everything for about 30 mintues or so - sound about right? Or should I not be lazy and actually make "real" beans?

sixfeet said...

try buying your roux pre-made in a jar. everytime i go home (baton rouge) i pick up a few jars of it. i don't find that it works for every roux occasion, but it makes for a delicious gumbo. savoie's (prounouced sav-wah) is my brand of choice. don't give up. gumbo is actually quite easy, and a wonderful thing to make *and* eat.

Melanie Lauren said...

Hi Lisa,

I made this recipe last night with pinto beans (Texas style) and I ommited some of the meat products and it was delicious! The best beans I've ever had and I've grown up on "a pot of beans". Thank you so much. I LOVE your blog :)

Melanie
Fort Worth, Texas

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog when looking for fried pie recipes - LOVE IT!

My favorite dish in the whole world is red beans, fried potatoes, and cornbread - all a little mixed together with some ketchup and a dash of Tabasco. These beans reminded me of this dish - try it, it's wonderful!

Mali from Austin said...

I love how the majority of posts are regarding: How to make roux. Well here is another one... Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen cookbook has the best instructions for "Cajun Napalm". We love a very black roux for our gumbo and this is the best/quickest method. Make sure you have all ingredients at the ready & you're good to go.
I just love your site and it has become a "go to" for my recipe searches.
Cheers!

Downright Dave said...

This looks great and I am gonna try this one out real soon! As for your gumbo troubles, let me tell you I have yet to make a decent pot of gumbo but each try is better than the last. However, I did come across a pretty slick trick for making the roux - actually was on an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown called "Bowl O Bayou" - in which you simply stir up the flour and oil in a dish and bake it. Works like a charm! The directions are in the first part of this Shrimp Gumbo recipe. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/shrimp-gumbo-recipe/index.html

Kelia said...

Hi there all the way from Singapore. I chanced upon your blog while searching for Yellow Pie.

Over here, we dont cook red beans the way you do - savoury. We have ours as a dessert - best served hot and sweet. Your recipe is very interesting.

xray said...

Just saw Alton's show on gumbo - looks good, but the roux needs to be closer to black (Paul Prudhomme's book has a nice color illustration of the stages of a roux) than 'brick-red' and tomatoes? No Louisiana gumbo I've ever had has tomatoes. I would add that you really want the roux HOT HOT HOT (not warm as Alton suggested) when you add the vegetables - this caramelizes the mixture prior to adding the stock. Some folks like a brown gumbo - but I think it misses the rich, smokey flavor that a really dark roux provides. If you want the real thing, get a cast iron pot, a good whisk, and stir constantly until DARK!

Rumela said...

I was made this for dinner tonight, and it was delicious! I was a little nervous it wouldn't have enough depth of flavor, but it turned out scrumptious. even my meat-loving husband liked it. I'm trying to do several meatless meals a week both for our health and our budget, so I really appreciate easy, vegan red beans and rice meals. thank you for shearing your post.

Sarah said...

I made these last night for dinner and I cannot wait to have them tonight!!!

bethany said...

Best beans and rice ever. They are even better the second day.

Rick said...

I have made more than a few attempts to reproduce an authentic bowl of red beans and rice and while my results were not bad, they've never drawn accolades from the family. Until now that is... this recipe is the real-deal. I may never wash my pot again.

Thank you, thank you and thank you.

Paul said...

Lisa I may get blasted for this because I don't know if it's authentic or not but I always add chopped green chiles to my red beans and rice. I really like the added heat it gives.

Timujin said...

Thanks Lisa! Your recipes are fantastic! My fiance lived several years in New Orleans as a youth, and he said "this is the real deal ... better than any restaurant in Houston." He requested this twice in one month, and most recipes don't get repeated twice in a year ...

Food Junkie said...

I have been wanting to make these for ever but the authentic meats are hard to find locally. Having finally assembled the necessary stuff I am gonna be trying this tonight. If I can figure out how to cube a round sausage. :-)

Cameron Sparr said...

When you say 16 oz. red beans, soaked.....

does that mean:
2 cups soaked red beans?
2 cups dry red beans, then soaked?
1 lb dry red beans, then soaked?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Cameron--Soak 16 ounces of beans.

Christa said...

Could this be made decently in a crockpot? If so, what are your recommended modifications?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Christa--I've never tried it (I don't own one), so I can't give you advice on modifying the recipe. Perhaps you could just throw everything in the pot and cook it on low all day.

Anonymous said...

Be accursed! only 1/4 lb of Andouille? at least 1lb. The rest looks good, very good. P.S. Make the Roux in the oven and quit killing yourself. Oven Roux dont burn. 350 degrees 1.5 hours. Stir every 30 min.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Louisiana (Lake Charles, Merryville) in the early 1980's and was taught to make pinto beans with rice and sausage (kielbasa) with only a few other seasonings - salt at the end of cooking, black pepper, a little cayenne, and some jalapeno peppers and some tabasco. The sauteed kielbasa added a lot of flavor, and the taste and consistency of the pinto beans cooked from scratch is incomparable to anything canned, or any other variety of dry beans. Coming from New England, I had never heard of such a thing as "pinto beans" or "cayenne. I lived in LA only about a year, but that recipe is one of my husband's (also a New Englander) favorites and it's one of my all-time go-to comfort foods. It's impossible to find any references online to a recipe using these three staples - there are variations, but mostly it's "red beans and rice" and although I love those, it would be nice to know if anyone else has heard of the combination I described.

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