My body is being a bit odd right now and only wants healthy things like yogurt, beans (not green beans), winter squash, collard greens, and things that go with rice. Oh well, gotta listen to what my body is telling me. It knows what it wants, and I’m guessing it is the best judge about what it needs, too. I truly believe that when we find ourselves gravitating towards particular foods, there must be something in those foods that our body needs.
Do you ever have those kinds of experiences? Do you ever have seasonal preferences? For instance, I only like to eat oranges in the winter and then I become almost obsessed with eating them. I want apples in the fall and winter, too. In summer I want watermelon, but you pretty much could not pay me enough to eat it in the wintertime. Nectarines, summertime. Carrots are on the “to eat” list all of the time, as are potatoes. Most vegetables are on a year-round schedule except for cucumbers. I don’t like to eat cucumbers so much in the winter, but bring them on in the summer!
Okay, enough about all of that. I have been going with the bean theme lately and have been looking for a recipe for red beans and rice. What I discovered in my research is that there are really no traditional, carved in stone recipes for red beans and rice. Although it is Southern-based, and particularly considered to be a Louisiana specialty, the recipes are as varied as the people who make them. So, I felt that I could make up my own red beans and rice recipe and not be too deeply chastised by the red beans and rice gods.
The flavors and textures in this recipe kept me wanting to come back for seconds and thirds. Red beans are very plain on their own, but even adding a little salt to them really wakes up their flavor. Saute some aromatics, add a few herbs and spices, toss in some form of smokey meat and that $1.00 bag of dried red beans becomes phenomenal!
I made this on Friday of last week and John has asked for it every day since then. He finally said that I could make it every week from now on and he would be happy. Red beans and rice. Every week. No kidding.
I did use dried red beans in this recipe as opposed to canned red beans. However, canned red beans would work well, too. I have lots of dried red beans on hand, so that is why I chose them. Beans keep for a long, long time if kept cool and dry. Older beans just need to be cooked a little longer. When I say “older”, I mean waaaay older. Like, say, for instance if the beans were from 1991.
As for the kielbasa, any similar style of sausage will work well. I have often used the low fat versions of the kielbasa-style sausages in other recipes with great results.
Pair the red beans and rice with some cornbread and a simple side salad and you have an outstanding, nutritious meal on your hands!
Some general words of caution regarding beans:
- Soaking dry beans allows the complex sugars in the beans to begin to break down. This is a good thing because it is the complex sugars that cause flatulance.
- Pour off the soaking water. Then rinse the beans well until the rinsing water runs clear. This ensures that the little gas trouble makers get out of Dodge before sun down.
- Do NOT add salt or tomatoes to the beans while they are cooking. Both salt and tomatoes will keep the beans hard by interfering with water uptake by the beans.
- Simple rule: nothing but beans and water until the beans are ready to be used in a recipe.
Red Beans and Rice
Recipe by Terri @ that’s some good cookin’
- 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over or 6 cups canned red beans
- 1 pound kielbasa, quartered lengthwise then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper (I used a smokey black pepper from McCormick–excellent)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground dry thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (wonderful flavor, you can find this in the spice isle)
- 4 cups chicken stock (I used the Costco brand that comes in a box)
- cooked white rice (the red beans are served over the rice)
- If using canned beans, skip to step #3. If using dried beans: rinse and sort beans, removing any bad beans and foreign material (anything that’s not a bean!). Cover the beans by at least 2-inches of water and soak for eight hours or overnight.
- Drain beans, rinse well until the water runs clear, then cover with water again and simmer over low heat until beans are soft, about 2 hours. Do not add salt while the beans are cooking. Doing so will cause the beans to be hard. This is true for all dry beans.
- When beans are cooked. Drain again and set aside.
- To a large frying pan, add the kielbasa and chopped bacon. Cook until the bacon is done. It will not be crispy.
- Add the onion, green bell pepper, celery, and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender, 15-20 minutes.
- Add the vegetable/kielbasa mixture to the beans.
- Cover with 4 cups chicken stock.
- Stir in the salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, and chipotle chili powder.
- Cover pot with the lid ajar. Simmer over medium heat for about 1-2 hours until the liquid has reduced and the bean mixture has thickened. Add a little water as needed and stir to keep bean mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- Ring the dinner bell and serve ‘um up.