Eilene is having her horde of friends over for a Game of Thrones night. I thought I would go Cajun. I lived in Louisiana for a couple of years and I have been craving red beans and rice with hushpuppies.
Many recipes call for soaking the beans overnight with heavily salted water (the slow soak method). The sodium in the salt replaces some of the calcium in the bean skin and gives you a tender bean skin. The problem with this method is that when you discard the soaking water you also throw away much of the beans’ color along with the excess salt. This gives you a grey and unappealing final dish.
I only use the long soak method with white beans. For dark beans—red, black, pinto, etc.—I prefer the short soak method. Boil, rest, and cook the beans in the soaking water with only as much salt as the recipe requires.
Karl’s Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
1 pound dry kidney beans
½ tsp. Kosher salt
2 Tbs. clarified butter (or olive oil)
12 oz. chicken Andouille sausage, sliced
1 onion, finely diced
1 green bell pepper, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
8 cloves garlic
1½ Tbs. Karl’s Cajun Spice Blend (or a commercial Cajun blend)
1 bay leave
2 cups steamed long grain white rice
1. Sort and rinse the beans.
2. Put the beans in a large pot with six cups of water and the salt. Bring the pot to a boil, remove it from the heat, cover, and let the pot stand for at least one hour.
3. In a Dutch oven, melt the butter over a medium heat. Brown the sausage lightly and remove to a bowl when done.
Note: I used Trader Joe’s chicken Andouille sausage, but any spicy sausage will do in a pinch.
4. Without cleaning the pot, sauté the onion, bell pepper, and celery for 3 to 4 minutes, until translucent.
5. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot and add the garlic to the hole in the center. Sauté the garlic until fragrant and mix in the rest of the vegetables.
6. Drain the beans and reserve the soaking liquid.
7. Measure the soaking liquid and add water to make four cups of fluid.
8. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pot again and add the spice mix and bay leaf to the hole in the center. Toast the spices for 15 seconds and then stir in the soaking liquid.
9. Stir in the beans.
Tip: Make sure to scrape the bottom of the Dutch oven to make sure that none of the vegetables, or spices, are caked to the bottom. You do not want them to scorch. There is nothing worse than red beans with a burnt taste.
10. Transfer the pot to a 325° F oven for one and a half hours. Stir every 30 minutes.
11. Remove ¼ cup of beans and ¼ cup of cooking liquid. Blend smooth and return it to the pot.
Tip: This thickens the bean sauce.
12. Stir the sausage into beans, and continue to baking for 30 more minutes.
13. Use your preferred method to cook your rice.
Tip: I prefer an Asian rice steamer, but not everyone has one.
14. Serve the red beans over a bead of steamed rice.
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