Red Beans & (Brown) Rice

Red beans & rice, a New Orleans classic!

I rarely blog about dishes I’ve only made once. I like to try them a couple of times and make adjustments, and then blog once I feel like I’ve figured it out. Yet, when I walked in my door after a long day at work and smelled the red beans cooking away in my slow cooker, I just knew it was gonna be a good one!

NOLA sights: St. Louis Cathedral, Cafe du Monde, and the Mississippi River.
NOLA sights: St. Louis Cathedral, Cafe du Monde, and the Mississippi River.

I had the chance to travel to New Orleans back in October had a blast. The sights, the sounds and the food were all fantastic–but my favorite was the food, naturally. And after poking around Pinterest and various blogs over the past few days, I decided it was time to recreate a NOLA classic: red beans and rice.

I can’t make any claims as to the authenticity of my version, but I think it captured the flavors and spirit of the original. The texture wasn’t quite what I was going for, though. The red beans and rice I sampled in the Big Easy were much thicker and gravy-like, almost the consistency of refried beans. So thick they were served on a plate over a bed of rice. Mine came out more like a soup or a thin stew, so I served it in a bowl with a mound of rice on top like gumbo. Next time I’d decrease the amount of water or maybe cook it a bit longer.

Red Beans & (Brown) Rice

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1 lb dry red beans
  • 1 lb Andouille sausage, sliced into rounds, or diced cooked ham, or ham hocks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp sage
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • salt to taste

Steps

  1. Pour the beans onto a rimmed baking sheet and pick through them, removing any debris such as pebbles. Rinse the beans in a colander. Then, place them in a bowl and cover with water by at least an inch. Soak overnight.
  2. Place the chopped vegetables, sausage and seasonings (except the salt and pepper) in the crock of a slow cooker (you can do this the night before and store the crock in the fridge). Drain the beans and add them to the slow cooker. Add the wine and 6 cups of water. (I thought that this was too much water; I would try using 5 cups next time.)
  3. Cook on low 8-10 hours, until the beans are tender. Stir in the black pepper, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. Scoop out a cup or so of the beans and mash them in a bowl with a fork. Pour the mashed beans back into the slow cooker to help thicken the mixture. Keep the slow cooker on warm until ready to serve.
    My new slow cooker! The lid is hinged so that it stands up when you open it (you can just barely see it at the top of the picture).
    My new slow cooker! The lid is hinged so that it stands up when you open it (you can just barely see it at the top of the picture).

    The beans came out thinner than I wanted, even after mashing some of th beans.
    The bean mixture came out thinner than I wanted, even after mashing some of them.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the rice, salt and 3 cups water in a pot with a lid. Bring to a boil over high heat, uncovered. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low; simmer the rice for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit at least 10 minutes or up to 30. Fluff with a fork. (This is the same method I shared with the Chicken and Rice recipe.)

    Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.
    Fluff the rice with a fork just before serving.
  5. Serve the red beans and rice together. I dished mine up by layering a bit of rice in the bottom of the bowl, ladling the beans over it, and topping it with another scoop of rice using an ice cream scoop.
    Here's how I served up this thinner red beans & rice. I layered a scoop of rice in th ebottom of a bowl...
    Here’s how I served up this thinner red beans & rice. I layered a scoop of rice in the bottom of a bowl…
    ladled the beans on top...
    ladled the beans on top…

    ...and then topped it with another scoop of rice. An ice cream scoop works great for this!
    …and then topped it with another scoop of rice. An ice cream scoop works great for this!

This recipe makes a lot of food, so be prepared! Serve with extra hot sauce and bread for soaking up the sauce.

Update:

I made this recipe again and did things a little differently. I added only five cups of water to the slow cooker and cooked on low for about 9 hours. Then I scooped out 1 1/2 cups of the beans and whirled them with my immersion blender until smooth. I turned the heat to high and let it cook uncovered for another 2 hours until we were ready to eat. The result was thicker than this first attempt, but still not quite what I had in mind. Next time I think I’ll try reducing it on the stove or incorporating a slurry.

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