Recipe: Red Beans and Rice

PC071054.JPG

It may not be the most beautiful meal, but is there anything better than a big, heart-warming bowl of red beans and rice on a cold winter's evening? I can't imagine there is. It's spicy and hearty and the absolute epitome of comfort food. 

That's why I usually double this amazing recipe, so I can gorge myself on it all week long and then cry into my empty bowl when it's all gone. I would quadruple the recipe if I had the refrigerator space for that much leftovers. Truly, I would.

Red Beans and Rice

serves 4

  • 8 ounces of dried red beans, salt soaked overnight*
  • 2 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 celery rib, minced
  • 1 small bell pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • dash of hot sauce
  • 4 oz. andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • cooked white rice to serve 4

Drain the beans thoroughly and rinse well. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, cook bacon over medium heat until slightly brown and fully rendered, about 5-8 minutes. Stir in onion, celery and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaf, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook until fragrant, 30-60 seconds. Stir in beans, water, broth and a dash of hot sauce, and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce heat to maintain a vigorous simmer, around medium. Cook for 45-60 minutes, until beans are soft and the liquid begins to thicken slightly. Add andouille sausage and vinegar and continue to cook for 25-30 minutes, until beans are fully creamy and sauce is thick. Season to taste. Remove and discard bay leaf. Serve over rice, with hot sauce on the side for those who like it extra spicy.

*To salt soak beans, dissolve 1 tablespoon of salt in 5 cups of cold water and add dried beans. Soak 10-24 hours.