I realize I promised you Epic Lemon Cake.
I also realize I promised you Epic Lemon Cake the day before yesterday.
But because the photos of the finished lemon cake are currently with my Hubby at his office, today it’s Red Beans and Rice!
Red Beans and Rice are more of a Monday food anyways. Epic Lemon Cake is definitely a Saturday food. Or a Sunday food. Or a Whole Weekend food.
You’ll see what I mean.
But Red Beans and Rice are so easy, so simple, so basic it’s silly. There is no excuse not to make them this week!
They are also wonderful entertaining food…simple, unpretentious, delicious, and you can throw everything in a big ol’ pot and pretty much forget about it until your guests arrive. No last minute preparation or panic required!
Yeah. That’s how I roll. I’m just no good at last minute details. Which is why my appetizers always burn.
Well, not always. Sometimes I just forget them altogether!
Well, anyhow. Back to the Red Beans.
(Oh, and: my apologies to any true southerners who feel my version isn’t authentic! Feel free to offer any corrections below!)
They don’t require a whole lot of work, but do require a little planning ahead.
Begin by soaking a pound of small red beans in cold water overnight.
(This is actually two pounds. As I was planning on feeding a small army I doubled the recipe…which incidentally is very easy to do! And which means that in all the photos you see, you can anticipate that it’s twice what it says it is. Sneaky, I know!)
In the morning they will have swelled a bit.
Drain them, rinse them (if you are so inclined), then throw them back in the pot you soaked them in and cover them with chicken stock. Or water, if you prefer. But chicken stock tastes better.
Next throw in a pound of Andouille sausage,
(You must use Andouille.
You can’t substitute it!
You also can’t really skip it.
There are those who say you can make delicious vegetarian Red Beans and Rice. I’m not a vegetarian, but I suppose it could be possible.
I’ve never tried it myself, but, you know, you could. If you were so inclined.
But once you’ve used the Andouille, there’s just no going back. You really will have to use it.
On the other hand, you can use less if you are trying to stretch a buck. I prefer my Red Beans and Rice really meaty, but if you are trying to feed more for less, use just enough Andouille to give you all that delicious flavor without breaking the bank!
And now back to the program!)
and a couple of diced onions,
diced green peppers,
(Celery, green peppers and onions…remember this combination? Because you can’t have southern food without Ye Olde Trinity.
It is the basis for almost all southern cooking. After that, you can add just about anything you want.)
gobs of garlic cloves!
and generous sprinklings of herbs!
I used fresh thyme, because I happened to have some on hand. But believe me when I say that for this recipe dried herbs always work bee-yoo-tifully.
I also sprinkled in oregano, basil and a few bay leaves.
Top it all with a large ham steak, or a ham hock, or a ham bone…just so’s there’s plenty of ham still on it…
Season it all generously with salt and pepper and bring it to a rolling boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the beans simmer for a couple of hours.
Two hours will give you firm beans with lots of broth.
Another hour will give you tender beans with less broth.
One more hour will give you very, very tender beans with
Any more than that will pretty much give you mush.
When the beans have reached the consistency you prefer, pull the herb stems out (if there are any) and remove the meats. Slice up the sausage and shred the ham. Add it all back into the beans with a can or two of diced tomatoes with chilies (or diced tomatoes with habaneros. You know, if you like things, like, spicy! I, like, totally do.)
In the meantime, steam yourself some rice. Serve ye the beans over the rice.
Top them with shredded cheese or green onions or maybe some diced tomatoes if you so desire.
So good for cold weather!
Makes wonderful leftovers!
And freezes perfectly for quick, late night suppers later on!
Make ya’ll some Red Beans this week. It’s just one more easy way to tell your family how much you love them!
Here’s the recipe!
(As is true of most southern recipes, all measurements are approximate…)
RED BEANS AND RICE
1 lb. dry small red beans
Cold water to cover
32 oz. chicken stock
½ -1 lb. Andouille sausage
1 large, meaty ham hock (or ½-1 lb ham steak)
1 large diced onion
1 C. diced carrot
1 C. diced green pepper
1 C. diced celery
4-5 large cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
2 bay leaves
1 can tomatoes with chilis
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked white rice
Cover the beans in cold water and soak overnight.
In the morning, drain and rinse the red beans. Cover with chicken stock. Add all the remaining ingredients except rice.
Bring to a full boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for several hours or until beans are tender.
Remove meats from pot. Slice the sausage and shred the ham, removing any bones.
Add meats back into the pot.
Serve beans over rice.
Sprinkle with toppings if desired.
Eat and be happy!