Apparently I make red beans and rice all wrong.
Firstly, my recipe has no tomatoes. “Louis Armstrong’s recipe has tomatoes, Melanie. Who do you think you are making red beans and rice without tomatoes, Melanie?” I’m someone who believes that there are already enough saucy, tomatoey things in this world and that the holy trinity – onion, celery, peppers – holds its own really well as the backbone of a good, saucy dish, like red beans and rice.
Secondly, my recipe includes herbs and spices….like, more than just cayenne and bay leaves (I will concede that bay leaves are of the utmost importance to this dish, however). What can I say?
Beans : Cumin :: Peas : Carrots
And thyme belongs in just about anything that involves peppers.
And French tarragon adds just the slightest bit of carvone, which I love.
If my recipe is wrong, I don’t want to be right, because my recipe is delicious and comes out creamy and boldly flavoured and about as comfort foodily as you can get.
So there you go.
Yesterday I made a batch with beans that I reconstituted in the kitchen robot. This is the first time I’ve ever made it with beans that were not still dried and I was fairly impressed with the results. The only real difference was that the veg did not fully disappear into the sauce as they do when I make it with dried beans, which requires significantly more cooking time (about eight hours, versus the two-ish hours last night’s batch took). The flavours were just as well-married as the long way, but the veg was still apparent. No big deal.
This recipe makes about 10 meal-sized servings.
What you need:
- 1 pound dried red beans
- 1 lb smoked sausage (it’s hard to get ahold of a good, cured and smoked andouille in my neck of the woods, so I use cheapo Compliments brand extra smoky street meat style sausages and they do the trick), cut into 1/4″ rounds
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, lightly ground
- 1 tbsp cayenne
- 2 tsp ground black or white pepper
- 2 tbsp oil, divided
- 2 medium-sized vidalia onions (or cooking onion of your choice)
- 4 ribs of celery, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 cup of beer of your choice
- 2 cups of stock (I had a citrus and ham bouillon on hand which worked beautifully)
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp dried French tarragon
- 3 cups (and probably more) cold water
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- About 4 cups of cooked white rice
- Chopped green onions and cilantro for garnish (optional)
What you do:
- Prep your beans, if you’re going that route.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium high, then fry the sausage pieces until just browned.
- Remove the sausage from the pot and set aside.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the cumin and cayenne to the pot. Toast these until fragrant.
- Add the remaining oil, the onion, celery and peppers. Let these simmer for about 20 minutes until very soft.
- Add the beer, stock, bay leaves, tarragon, beans, sausages and enough water to cover to the pot and let simmer for a couple of hours (if using reconstituted beans) or about eight hours (if using dried beans), adding water as necessary to keep it moist, until you have a thick, rich sauce
- Just before serving, stir in the cider vinegar.
- Serve in bowls over rice and topped with the chopped scallions and cilantro.