New Orleans style Red Beans and Rice
Today I present you with: New Orleans style Red Beans and Rice. Red beans are great to make because they're 1) awesome delicious, 2) not too unhealthy, 3) easy to make, 4) very inexpensive -- a whole pot doesn't cost more than about $6-8 bucks to make, and 5) it makes enough for an army. One pot can last you and a buddy an entire week. This makes them ideal for college students.
I live in New Orleans, so I'm going to be presenting you with the "New Orleans" style of them, as Wikipedia indicates that this is an actual style. Want to know a dirty secret about the best red beans you can get in New Orleans? It's pretty universally agreed that the best in the city are from Popeye's. It's fast food, but it regularly wins annual rewards, and most red bean experts admit that it's what they use for the benchmark. As such, the red beans I'm going to be present you with here are going to be similar to Popeye's, but with a more personalized flavor profile. I'll try to note all departures and alternate routes that a more "classic" version takes.
Before blindly starting, take note that red beans take time; I never said they were fast. You're going to need overnight to soak the beans, and then a good 4 hours of cook time to get them where you want them. Red beans are historically a "Monday" dish -- due to the fact that you made them while doing your laundry all day. Don't ask me why Monday is laundry day
- 1 lb. Red kidney beans (Camellia brand is the standard)
- 1 lb. Smoked Sausage (I'm using smoked sausage from a cajun meat store in LaPlace, but use what you like and have access to)
- 1 Large onion (I'm using two small guys)
- 2-4 Stalks of celery
- 1 Green bell pepper
- 1 Metric fuckton of garlic (although I'm too ashamed to photograph it, I just used about a cup of the pre-chopped stuff from Sams)
- 1 Bottle of beer (Abita Amber preferred, but make sure not to use anything too bitter)
- Chicken broth
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 0.5 teaspoon liquid smoke (double that if your sausage doesn't smell smokey)
- A few shakes of bitters
- And one small tortoise.
Night Before: Soak
If you've already laid out all of your ingredients on the table at this point, go ahead and put them all back except for the beans and scold yourself for not reading the recipe all the way through first.
You're going to want to give your beans overnight to soak before you get to cooking. Place your beans in the pot you intend to cook them in, and cover them with about 3-4 times over with water and slap a lid on them. If your pot can't accommodate this much water, you need a larger pot. These things are going to sponge up the water, and more than once I've seen someone with beans overflowing out of the top of their tiny pot.
If you're in a rush and don't have overnight, you can probably get away with 4-6 hours of soaking and just cooking them a bit longer.
Chop your sausage on the bias. I'm a fan of slicing it lengthwise first because otherwise the sausage hunks are too big for my taste. I'd like to point out that in just about every restaurant I've gotten red beans in, the sausage always comes *whole*, grilled, and on the side. I'm guessing they do this to accommodate vegetarians easier, but I'd personally rather have them chopped up and stewing their meaty goodness with the beans.
Also go ahead and chop up your trinity -- the onion/celery/bell pepper. I thoroughly encourage using your celery leaves too, unless your tortoise ate all of them.
Drain the beans and keep them in the strainer. Don't bother washing your pot.
Add a bit of oil and fry up your sausage. If you wanted to make this *seriously* good, add in some chopped up bacon too -- use a whole pack if you're feeling in the mood (and don't have a cardiologist to shame you).
After it's done crisping up and oozing out oil, move it to a plate -- or my favorite, the pot lid. I hate doing extra dishes.
Add some extra oil if you need it (or drain the excess if your sausage leaked a ton of it) and start your veges sizzling.
Oh yeah, don't forget the garlic.
After it's all softened, toss your sausage back in.
Let's talk cooking liquid!
The classic thing to use is the water your soaked your beans in. However, I've already conned you into tossing that out -- and there's more flavorful candidates at your disposal. There's chicken stock as an obvious choice, but I don't see any reason not to augment that with some beer. I drink a lot of tasty beer as well as homebrewing, but I've never found anything better for putting into food than Abita Amber. It has a ton of thick body, the right amount of darkness without going stouty, and not too much bitterness that builds up.
Drain the bottle, and then add enough chicken stock to cover the beans
Add your flavorings and adjuncts! For me this means:
- Bay leaves
- Liquid Smoke (Provides that bacon flavor without the grease. Using this is the most substantial step to getting that Popeye's flavor)
- Bitters (This is completely not traditional. However, Justin Wilson -- the "I gah-run-tee guy" is absolutely nuts about adding bitters to cajun food, and it adds a really interesting aspect that people won't be able to put their finger on. Don't have any? Don't worry about it. I'm using Peychaud's in this batch)
- Sriracha (cayenne is an obvious choice here too, but I like the flavor that comes with Sriracha a bit more)
Parsley would also be good in this, but I was out. If you're really partial to a flavoring, don't be afraid to use it too.
Stir it all up, and kick the flame down to low. Let this sit for about 4 hours, stirring once or twice an hour.
Start up your rice! This rice cooker is my absolute favorite toy in the kitchen, and it gets about 20 times the use that the Kitchenaid mixer does. I'm using brown Nishiki sushi rice (not traditional) to make it a bit healthier, and because the sushi rice doesn't get all hard in the fridge.
So, about four hours have passed, and the beans look pretty cooked. Now, you could just eat them as they are now (and many places do serve them at this point), but I personally like to take advantage of the starchy goodness and make them creamy. The solution: put about a third of them into the blender. It's impossible to try to pick out all the meat when doing this, so just roll with it and concentrate on keeping the bay leaves out.
Add it back to the pot. Be careful with your heat after doing this, because it is a lot easier for the ground up bean paste to settle to the bottom and burn.
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star is playing -- the rice must be done. Go ahead and fluff it up.
Serve with corn bread! I put a handful of cheese in this batch and it definitely worked. You could also try adding jalepenos or chopped cracklins. If you have fresh parsley, you could toss some on top. For extra zest you can add some Pickapeppa sauce on top.
Oh yeah, this stuff tastes better the next day. Left overs are a good thing.
Recipe by synt4x. Original Thread