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