Friday, March 7, 2014

Louisiana Red Beans and Rice

Southern inspired food always makes me feel somewhat nostalgic.  My dad's side of the family lives in the south (Alabama and Louisiana) and I think part of me feels really connected to my southern roots.  There is something so nice about the south that is so different from anywhere else I have been.  There is a kindness and love that you can feel from the people.  A feeling of care and family.  After spending some time in Atlanta for a little over a month a couple years ago I always said that I could see myself ending up there.  Then I took a buzzfeed quiz on what state suited me the best and I got Georgia.  Now if that isn't fate then I don't know what is (HA!).  Anyways I love to cook up some southern food when I want something flavorful and comforting.  I think when people think about southern comfort food they often associate it with fried or unhealthy, but it really doesn't have to be that way.  You can totally pack something with a lot of good southern flavor without feeling awful after you eat it.  I think red beans and rice is a perfect example of this. 

L O U I S I A N A  R E D  B E A N S  A N D    R I C E  R E C I P E

 4 (15 oz.) cans of dark red kidney beans, drained, rinsed
 12 oz. package of andouille chicken sausage, cut into medallions (I used the Open Nature Smoked Andouille Chicken Sausage from Safeway)
 1 green bell pepper, diced
 1 medium onion, diced
 5 garlic cloves, minced
 1½ Tbsp. olive oil
 ½ Tbsp. cajun seasoning (my favorite is Tony Chachere's The Original Creole Seasoning)
 2 tsp. chicken bouillon (my favorite is Better than Bouillon Organic Chicken bouillon)
 2 bay leaves
 ½ Tbsp. dried basil
 ½ tsp. salt
 ½ tsp. black pepper
 cooked rice

 Place soup pot on medium-high heat and add 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and andouille. Let the andouille fry until it has browned on each side and then remove it from the pot and place onto a plate and set aside.
 Reduce heat to medium-low and add the remaining ½ Tbsp. of olive oil, bell pepper and onion.  Saute until they begin to soften then add the garlic and cook for another couple minutes.  If there is any burning or sticking in the pot, feel free to add a little more olive oil or a little bit of water.  
 Once the vegetables have cooked, add the andouille back into the pot, as well as the kidney beans, cajun seasoning, bay leaves, dried basil, salt, and pepper.
 Add water to the pot so that everything is covered and add in the chicken bouillon and give everything a good stir.  Turn heat to high.
 Cook on high until the water has cooked down and the mixture has thickened (It will take around 30-45 minutes), making sure to occasionally stir so that it doesn't burn on the bottom.
 When the mixture has thickened, come in with a potato masher and mash a few times so that most beans remain whole, but some add to the thickness of the mixture.  If it becomes too thick add a little bit of water.
 Taste the red beans and check it for seasonings, depending on your desired spice level you may want more cajun seasoning, but be careful because it does contain salt so don't over-do it!)  If you want it to be subtly more spicy just add extra black pepper.
 When the red beans are done serve over rice.
 WALAH!  Enjoy and start feeling nourished

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