Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Red Beans and Rice
Last night, a friend and I got together to talk over our Lenten plans. A little more prayer, a few days of fasting, and some new spiritual reading. I love the cycles of the church year - the times of feasting and fasting, the ever-present chance for renewal and growth and deeper relationships.We enter the spirit of Lent by admitting that there is work to be done. And it makes the joy of Easter so much greater!
For today, though, it's still Mardi Gras. So we'll have a comforting bowl of rice and creamy beans - and maybe a drink or two - a little decadence before our forty-day fast.
The holy trinity of cajun and creole cooking. Cue heavenly light and angels singing.
What are your plans for Lent? Are you a give-up-chocolate-and-call-it-good type of person? Do you usually overcommit yourself and end up feeling like a dismal failure? How do you feel about fasting?
Red Beans and Rice
adapted from Heirloom Beans
Note: You are welcome to soak the beans overnight before making this. But if you want it for dinner tonight, I've found that the soaking is unnecessary. This would also be a perfect crock pot recipe, if you're so inclined. Dump it all in the slow cooker in the morning, and then when you get home, just make some rice and you're good to go!
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 celery ribs, chopped
1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound small red beans
1 ham shank or 3/4 cup diced ham
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
creole seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne to taste
cooked long-grain white rice, for serving
1 pound andouille sausage or kielbasa, in 1/4-inch rounds
sliced green onions, for serving
In a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil and bacon and cook until bacon is crispy. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and save for another use (or, ahem, eat it as a healthy snack while you're cooking). Add the onion, celery, green pepper, and garlic and sauté until soft and fragrant, about ten minutes. Add the beans and ham, and add enough cold water to cover the beans by one inch. Add bay leaf, thyme, and oregano, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beans are tender, about 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary. Season to taste with creole seasoning, black pepper, and cayenne.
Raise the heat and boil the beans uncovered for 15-20 minutes, to thicken. Use a wooden spoon to mash some of the beans on the side of the pot. Meanwhile, sauté the sausage in a large nonstick skillet until browned on both sides and heated through. To serve, place a scoop of rice in a shallow bowl and spoon beans over. Arrange a few slices of sausage on top, and sprinkle with green onions.