New Orleans Recipe: Red Beans & Rice with Smoked Sausage

8 Feb

For a printable version of this recipe with complete ingredients listing, click here.

We call this "virgin" Jambalaya...absolutely NO crayfish in my kitchen!

So…in honor of the Saints winning their first Super Bowl, I’m proud to present a festive Louisana-style post today!

Normally, I don’t like any food labeled “Cajun” or “Creole” or in any other way associated with New Orleans–the spices don’t seem to blend well together (at least not in my mouth), and as far as I’m concerned, “blackened” is just another way of saying, “Wow, I really burned the hell out of this.”

(And pleeeease don’t get me started on crayfish. As my mother used to say, ‘Who do you think was the first person in history to look down at a crawdad climbing out of his mudhole castle and say, ‘You know, I think I’d like to put that in my mouth…?’” Good grief.)

It's amazing how far 1/2 cup dry beans will stretch!

However, I realized this weekend that despite having run a “cheap recipes” blog for six months now, I’ve never tried my hand at making Red Beans & Rice, the Supreme Mighty Potentate of nutrition on the cheaps.

I paid only 50 cents for the HALF POUND of sausage you see here--Hooray for in-store promos and coupon-stacking!

So, I gave it the old college try–picking and choosing from Cajun spices I thought I could handle rather than buying one of those icky pre-mixed shaker blends. I also threw in some cheap sausage (I went couponing last weekend and scored some Johnsonville Andouille Brats at an unbelieveable $1 per pound!) and added some homemade canned tomatoes to round out the flavors a little bit.

The result? Surprisingly, it was actually good! Toss me some Mardi Gras beads and save me a slice of King Cake–I’m cooking it up New Orleans-style in the old kitchen tonight!

A cup of dry white rice. Doesn't get cheaper than this.

Begin by rinsing 1/2 cup dry small red beans and placing them in the bottom of a medium-to-large saucepan. Cover them with 4 cups water and bring to rapid boil.

Sprinkle the following spices over your beans: 1 to 2 tablespoons minced onions, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon paprika and 1/2 teaspoon thyme. Add cayenne or black pepper to taste.

Once boiling, reduce heat to medium setting and place lid slightly ajar over pan to prevent any boiling over but prevent liquid from all steaming away. Simmer mostly covered for about 90 minutes.

After an hour-and-a-half, remove lid from spiced beans and add 3 cans chicken or vegetable broth. Stir in 1 cup uncooked white rice and replace lid slightly ajar.

Butter and sausage! (Hey, I never said this version was lowfat.)

While water/broth mixture returns to simmer, chop 1/2 pound (about 3 regular brats) smoked sausage and add to stovetop mixture. Drain a 15-ounce can of tomatoes and add to pot.

It tastes more authentic if you start singing Arlo Guthrie's "City of New Orleans" while you stir.

Add 1/4 cup (or 1/2 stick) butter or margarine to boiling rice mixture and replace lid, stirring often to prevent sticking and checking rice periodically for doneness.

Allow rice to cook 30-45 minutes, or until soft. It’s okay if there’s a little liquid left that hasn’t soaked into the rice and beans; because of the added butter, the liquid will thicken a little when you remove the pot from heat and serve as a rich broth.

Serve garnished with fresh parsley or chives.

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