12.30.2010

Red Beans and Rice

A few weeks ago I was craving something hot, healthy, and hearty. Oh yeah, and spicy too. And then it hit me. Red Beans and Rice. The first dish ever mastered by me and my beloved. Click here (scroll down almost to the end) for the full story or forge ahead. Either way.

As I gathered the ingredients my Florida friend called and I of course announced my dinner plans to her. "We make that dish all the time," she said. "Remember you sent me the recipe years ago?" For a moment I felt warm and happy inside, how I always get when friends speak in such terms, but then I thought, Wow, had it really been years? I guess so. Circa 1995 I believe. Will someone please pass me my cane?

Meanwhile, Florida Friend continued on to say she freezes the leftovers since her kids currently show no interest in such culinary sophistication. Our leftovers go in the fridge and the next day husband Todd and I fight over who gets it for lunch. Whatever happens to your leftovers, I hope this oldie but goodie satisfies next time you crave hot, hearty, and all that other jibber jab from paragraph one.

Recipe

This recipe originally came from The Great American Cookbook which I bought "years ago" from a door to door salesman.

Part 1:

Let's talk rice* before even looking at the "Red Beans" part, shall we?  If you are a committed instant, frozen, or some other shortcut person, skip to Part 2 below and make your rice accordingly.

If you plan to go the old fashioned way, do so before you start Part 2.

Here's how I cook rice after years of mess ups. These directions are directly from the Joy of Cooking's section on cooking grains. If you plan to use a different type of rice, ask Google or if you own Joy of Cooking check out this section.

In a medium pot bring to a boil 2 1/4 for chewy rice (2 1/2 for softer, stickier rice) cups water or broth (chicken or vegetable) with 1 tablespoon butter or oil, and 1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt. Then add 1 cup long-grain brown rice, stir once with a fork, cover and while it cooks go to Part 2. (DO NOT STIR until end of cook time. If pot top isn't clear it's okay to lift lid after about 20 minutes to see how it's doing). Keep heat on low so rice simmers until all liquid is absorbed, about 35 minutes. Let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Fluff with fork.

Part 2:

In a deep skillet or large dutch oven cook over medium heat until hot*:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Then add (amounts need not be exact, I usually use a bit more):
  • 1/2 cup each, chopped into 1 inch pieces: onion (red or yellow), celery, green pepper

Stir and cook for 3-5 minutes, until veggies are cooked but still crisp*. 

Add and cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant:
  • 2 cloves minced garlic

Stir in:
  • 4 links cooked sausage* (one package) sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 30 oz. tomato sauce
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Simmer for about 15 minutes over low heat, covered, stirring once or twice.

Stir in:
  • 30 oz. canned red or kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Continue cooking until beans are hot, 2 minutes or so. I add them at the end so they don't get mushy.

If it seems too thick add water, 2 tablespoons at a time until it looks soupy enough for you, if that's how you like it. You can put the lid back on, turn off heat and let it sit for a while until you're ready. Nothing bad will happen, promise.

Serve over hot cooked rice. About 2-3 cups worth should be enough.

**Extra! Extra!**
  • Anyone else mess up rice about a hundred times before finally deciding the frozen boxed at TJ's or instant was just plain easier? Yeah, me too. But let's face facts, those don't taste as good as cooking plain old rice, packaged or from bulk, with some salt and/or butter or oil, maybe a hunk of ginger or some herbs thrown in for aroma.
  • Oil should shimmer a bit. I sometimes hold my hand close to the surface to feel for hotness. Not the safest move, so be careful.
  • Taste a piece or two. There's more cooking to go so don't overcook and end up with mushy veggies later. Saute at least 3 minutes for best flavor, when color changes a bit you should be good.
  • I tend to use Amy's brand chicken sausage, any type. For this recipe I've used several different brands and flavors, all have worked.

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