Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Red Beans and Rice

Haaaay, how y'all doin'?  Oh, sorry, I slipped into my N'awlins drawl, you see, because I just spent 4 days down in the Bayou.  Every single person I encountered opened with "Haaay, how y'all doin'?" and now it's my favorite way to start a conversation (or, I just throw beads at people and see how they react).


The food in Louisiana was okay.  On one hand, I had a mediocre (at best) shrimp po' boy in the French Quarter, a dry-ish vegetarian muffaletta somewhere at 2am, and enough green beer on St. Patrick's Day to stain my tongue emerald.


On the plus side, I had some pretty good seafood gumbo in Baton Rouge, a beignet covered with a mountain of powdered sugar at Cafe du Monde, blackened tuna at Mr. B's Bistro, a killer Sazerac, and lots of coffee with chicory.


It's hard being semi-veg in New Orleans because sausage is everywhere.  However, I was too busy drinking to worry about food too much.  Now that I'm home and trying to detox the vacation out of me, I realize I didn't get any red beans and rice.  Red beans and rice is a traditional Creole dish that's made on Mondays with whatever meat was leftover from the Sunday dinner.  I mostly wanted some because of the line in "Baby Got Back" that goes..."gimme a sister can't resist her, red beans and rice didn't miss her."


Even though those lyrics imply that red beans and rice give you a big ass, I made a vegetarian version at home.  Without the pork and white rice, it's much healthier!

You have to start any Creole dish with what they call the "Holy Trinity" in New Orleans:  onion, celery, bell pepper.  Then I added soaked red beans, spices, and chipotle peppers for smokiness.  Boil together with stock for an hour and serve with brown rice.  It was super spicy (just the way I like it!) but I felt it needed some more fat, so I added half a diced avocado.  It was filling and satisfying.  The creamy freshly cooked beans absorbed all the spice from the chipotles, and the brown rice gives it a nice nutty balance.


Red Beans and Rice, adapted from What Would Cathy Eat
Serves lots

1 lb bag dried red beans, soaked overnight or boiled for 1 hour
1 medium onion, diced
4 ribs celery, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
5 cloves garlic, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 chipotle pepper, chopped (I used 2 plus some adobo sauce but I love the heat)
5.5 cups water or vegetable stock (or combo of the two)
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

For serving:  cooked brown rice, chopped scallions, diced avocado

In a large pot, saute your onion, celery, bell pepper, garlic, and carrot in some olive oil until soft (about 5 minutes).  Add your soaked beans, bay leaves, oregano, cayenne, chipotles, water or stock, and Worcestershire and boil gently - uncovered - for about 1 hour, or until beans are soft.

Serve with brown rice, scallions, avocado, and more hot sauce if you can take it.

ONE YEAR AGO:  Sweet Green Curry
TWO YEARS AGO:  Warm Lentil Salad with Sunny Eggs
THREE YEARS AGO:  Seared Tuna Salad with Spicy Asian Dressing

3 comments:

  1. UHHH YUMMM! I love beans, and unfortunately they didn't miss me...ahem. Did I ever tell you I like the one, two, and three years ago addition on your blog posts? I love all of your ideas! :)

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  2. I love the idea of adding some avocado. And the fact that you referenced "Baby Got Back." That song never fails to make me smile.

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  3. Personally, there's something about beans and rice that gets in my tummy and swells . . . there's no WAY I could eat enough to get a big ass! :)

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