I lived in Louisiana for two years right after college. It was the early 80s. When I moved to Virginia I lost 20 pounds without trying. Enough said.
Louisiana cooking embodies all the elements required for a memorable culinary experience. It uses fresh, local ingredients from crawfish and catfish to andouille sausage made from lean pork and fresh ground spices. I can still taste the beignets and cafe au lait served at Cafe Du Monde. Muffalottas filled with decadence between two slices of round italian bread. Gumbo with a dollop of potato salad.
On Mondays, it’s always Red Beans and Rice. Most recipes I’ve seen make enough to feed a streetcar packed with tourists. This recipe serves two plus a bit more. I also gave some consideration to how to “quick start” the beans. Purists soak the beans overnight and then cook them for hours with the other ingredients. If you go to all that trouble, be sure to make extra beans to quick start another recipe, perhaps chili. You could use canned red beans, just be sure you cook them long enough for them to be smashable. Smashed beans is the secret sauce. Steam-cooked the rice in the oven while the rest of the ingredients were being prepared.
In addition to the produce and spices, I also used packaged Chicken Andouille sausage. It is lower in fat and still packs a nice flavorful punch.
3 chicken, Andouille sausage links, sliced
1.5 cups red beans
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup yellow pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons parsley, reserve some for garnish
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice
- Saute the celery, garlic and peppers in a saucepan large enough to hold all the ingredients.
- Brown the chicken andouille sausage in a skillet and then add to the saucepan containing the vegetables.
- Add the spices, red beans and chicken stock to the saucepan.
- Bring to a boil and then simmer for an hour.
- Take some of the red beans and smash them to thicken the sauce.
- Serve over rice.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- Sprinkle with some fresh parsley and serve.