Homemade Red Beans and Rice – Made Easy
I admit, I’m a sucker for any and all Cajun food. My first love was jambalaya. I showcased this love in my post Family Friendly Jambalaya. Check it out! The Cajun food obsession doesn’t stop there. Give me gumbo, po’ boys, crawfish, you name it, I’ll scarf it down….QUICKLY.
One of the dishes that belongs somewhere towards the top of my Cajun favorites is red beans and rice. This is a full admission that I have never had homemade red beans and rice anywhere else. Literally the only version of this that I’ve had was the Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice in a box.
I used to love the heck out of this stuff, but I haven’t had it in forever, I don’t know what’s in it, and I don’t care to. I just know that I loved it and it’s gotten to the point where I want to make my own version. Basically, it’s because of Zatarain’s Red Beans and Rice that I’m writing this post today. So I feel like I owe to them to recommend this product. If you’re not ready for all of the soaking and simmering of the full blown version, start with Zatarain’s. It will make you want to make the homemade stuff. Which, by the way, is way cheaper. Dried beans themselves are ridiculously cheap, and should be a pantry staple for you anyways. Here’s a heck of a deal: Blue Runner Red Beans 4 Pounds
I feel like I need to disclose this, just in case I’ve come up with some abomination that is going to offend “seasoned” Red Bean and Ricers. Like I stated before, I’ve never had authentic red beans and rice. I may have made something that is way off. But to me, it’s reminiscent of the boxed stuff that I used to eat, but with a way fresher and rich flavor and consistency. Regardless, it is Homemade Red Beans and Rice, and my family and I are in love with it.
A FEW NOTES
Once you get to a certain point with simmering your beans, the consistency will come down to personal preference. You’re just going to have to get in there and try some. Not that you mind doing that now, do you?
Don’t saute the onions, peppers, mushrooms and celery too long, their turn to mush. You want them to hold up as long as possible while simmering. Cut them a little larger than wanted, because they will shrink some, and don’t saute them until they’re super soft.
Definitely don’t stress over this dish. It seems fairly forgiving, and in the long run, the food is for you and your family. (unless you’re cooking for someone else) As long as they like it, that’s all that matters. You’re not going to be judged on how closely yours tastes compare to someone who has been making and eating it their entire lives.
All of that being said, and above all…
HAVE FUN WITH IT
Cooking Red Beans and Rice from dried beans is a whole experience. It’s like planting a seed and watching it grow into a plant, except on a smaller scale. You start by taking the time to pick over your beans and clean them well. You soak them (or not, there are many schools of thought here), prepare the sauce that the beans will simmer in, then finally toss the beans into the pot and simmer for hours. It’s so hard to stay away from the pot too.
Again, enjoy. Absorb the memories. The smells, the ups, the downs. Learn from your mistakes. They make you a better cook and just a better person in general. Happy home cooking!
- 1 lb dry red beans, picked over and rinsed
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 8 cremini mushrooms, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3-4 tbsp creole seasoning of choice ( The BEST you can buy is Tony Chacheres) or you could make your own
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 3 bay leaves
- 8-10 cups vegetable broth
- salt and pepper
- hot sauce
- Run your water in your sink until it is as hot as it gets. Pour 8 cups of this hot water over your beans
- In a large stock pot, heat enough olive oil to coat the bottom over medium high heat until just smoking. Add onion, pepper, mushrooms, celery and 1 tsp salt. Stir well to combine and saute for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add in the garlic, 3 tablespoons of creole seasoning, basil and bay leaves. Saute another 3-4 minutes stirring almost constantly.
- Pour in 8 cups of the broth, 3 tbsp hot sauce and the beans. Stir well to combine everything, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Lower the heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 hours.
- At the end of this two hours, stir the beans and check the liquid level. If it seems to be getting low, use the remaining broth to bring the level up. Also try your beans at this point to test their doneness. Depending on your preference, these may be done enough. If not, continue to simmer adding broth if necessary. If broth is added, adjust the seasoning accordingly and always taste after you make changes.
- Serve these hot over white steamed rice with hot sauce and green onions.
If you’re into Cajun Food….
Check out my Family Friendly Jambalaya
Or Maybe BLACK Beans Instead of Red
Try out my MEATLESS Black Beans and Rice