Since the Superbowl includes the New Orleans Saints, Cajun food seems appropriate this week. The cold, rainy weather we’ve had lately is another good reason to think about cooking red beans and rice. Not that I need an excuse.
It’s pretty bad when your standard of excellence for a certain food is a fast food joint. But it’s true. My kids (and me, I’ll admit) want red beans and rice that remind us of Popeye’s.
My son is pretty sure I would never put as much fat as necessary to make my red beans taste like theirs. He might be right. But this recipe is so tasty and fresh, it’s not missed.
The secret may be the sausage. Get the real andouille sausage if possible. I love the turkey andouille at Whole Foods. If you can’t find andouille, go with kielbasa.
Also note the long soak time with lots of SALT! Although skeptical at first, I’m now a believer. Don’t worry. It gets rinsed off.
- 1 pound small red beans, rinsed and picked over
- 4 slices bacon, chopped fine
- ½ medium onion, finely chopped
- ½ cup green bell pepper, seed and finely chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon if substituting dried)
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (I used smoked paprika)
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Ground black pepper
- 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 6 cups water
- 8 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar, plus extra for seasoning
- Dissolve 3 tablespoons salt in 4 quarts cold water in large bowl. Add beans and allow to soak from 8 to 24 hours. Drain and rinse well.
- Fry bacon until brown and crispy. Add onion, bell pepper and celery. Saute until softened. Stir in seasonings (garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne pepper and ground black pepper) and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in beans, broth and water. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer approximately 1 hour. Beans should be just tender and liquid starting to thicken.
- Stir in diced sausage and 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar. Continue cooking beans another 30 minutes until tender and creamy. Season to taste with salt and pepper. I put hot sauce on the table for those members of my family with numb tongues.
- Serve over long-grain rice.