I’ve stated before that I’m not Catholic so I don’t really observe Mardi Gras or Ash Wednesday for religious reasons. However, I’ll take any excuse to eat Cajun inspired cuisine. It’s so delicious. And, if you do it right, it can be decently good for you a well. The trickiest part of Cajun food for me is the Cajun seasoning. The heat levels can vary widely. So test yours out before adding the amount suggested in any recipe. Or my dad, who lived in Louisiana for a bit, told me people often will let you add your own at the table. Tony Chacheres is a pretty widely available version. When I’ve used it, I haven’t found it overly spicy. But the freshness of it can also effect that. I have a brand in my cupboard called “Slap yo mama” that is VERY spicy.
Red beans and rice is a classic Louisiana dish. It is also hearty and sticks to your ribs in the cold weather most of us have been having. This recipe is also pretty flexible. You can let the beans simmer longer than the minimum time I’ll suggest here. There actually is a bean called “small read beans”. If you can’t find those, kidney beans could also work. Happy Mardi Gras Eve!
Red Beans and Rice (Serves 8)
1 pound small red beans, rinsed and picked over
2 slices of bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped (about ½ cup)
2 celery ribs, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Cajun seasoning to taste (mine is spicy so I started with ½ teaspoon)
3 cups low sodium chicken or beef broth
6 cups water
6 ounces andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into bite size slices (can substitute kielbasa)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Cooked brown rice (about ½ cup dried per person)
- Soak beens overnight in 4 quarts of cold water with 1 tablespoon water. Alternatively, you can quick soak your beans by putting the beans in 4 quarts of water with 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Then remove from heat, cover, and let stand 1 hour. Drain and rinse (with either method), then use in recipe.
- In a large heavy pot, brown bacon over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Add onion, green pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cajun seasoning. Cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans, broth, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low/medium. Simmer for at least 45 minutes (can be longer if you’d like). Beans should be soft and liquid should be beginning to thicken. If simmering longer, you may need to add more water if it starts getting too thick.
- About 30 minutes before you want to eat, stir in sausage and vinegar. Cook for another 30 minutes. Serving over hot rice.
Nutrition Information: (amount per serving)
Protein: 24 g
Fat: 10 g
Saturated fat: 3 g
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 85 g
Fiber: 16 g
Sodium: 304 mg
Recipe Notes: As I said above, the heat level of Cajun seasoning can vary widely. I’d err on the low side, to just give your beans flavor. If people want it hotter, they can sprinkle more on at the table. Kielbasa can be substituted for the anduiulle, but I’d probably add more Cajun seasoning then.
Source: adapted slightly from America’s Test Kitchen