Thursday, May 2, 2013

Gotta Love Beans & Rice

Beans and rice are a carb-loaded, ready-for-a-siesta favorite meal in my house.  Popular in Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Haiti, Portugal, and Spain, among others, it's a classic combination of flavors and a very frugal meal. We frequently eat pinto beans and rice and tortillas.  And then go take a nap.

So this week I decided to look to my neighbors to the right, being Louisiana, who feast on red beans and rice.  Now, typically, they serve red beans with white rice.  However, another popular Cajun dish is dirty rice.  No, it's not really filled with dirt.  Please don't panic when you read this next part.  The reason it's called "dirty" rice is because it's cooked with chicken livers which gives it a darker appearance.  I did not cook mine with chicken livers, but, if you're a fan, go for it. I did fill it with a punch of flavor with onions, jalapenos, garlic, and sausage.

For the rice, I used ground breakfast sausage.  But feel free to use any kind of pork sausage, chicken livers, ham, or even ground beef.  I also prepped everything the night before and cooked the beans in the crockpot, so it makes for an easy meal.

If you aren't from the South and aren't familiar with these strange flavors, please give it a try.  You'll love it so much that you'll be dancing to Zydeco in an instant!

1 lb red beans
1 onion, chopped
2-4 jalapenos, seeded chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4-6 C chicken stock
1-3 T Cajun seasoning, to taste (depends on how spicy you want it)
1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut into cubes
1 lb cooked ham, cubed
Salt & pepper, as needed

2 T butter
1 onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (or green bell pepper)
1 rib celery, chopped
1 lb ground pork sausage (like Jimmy Dean's)
1 1/2 C rice
3 C chicken stock
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt & pepper, to taste
Sliced green onion, for serving
Hot sauce, for serving (such as Crystal's)

For the beans, drizzle some olive oil into a crockpot and add in all of the ingredients.  Add in enough chicken stock to cover the beans 1 inch over the top.  Cook on low for about 8 hours, checking the liquid level after about 4 hours and adding more, if necessary.  Cook until the beans are tender. Taste the beans for salt and pepper and adjust accordingly.

For the rice, melt the butter in a large skillet and drizzle in some olive oil.  Cook the onion, peppers and celery until they're tender.  Add in the sausage and garlic.  Cook the sausage, breaking it up as you go, until it's browned.  Stir in the rice and the chicken stock.  Bring it to a boil.  Tightly cover the skillet and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cook until the rice is tender, about 25 minutes.

Serve the beans with the rice and hot sauce. Garnish with green onions.

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