Sunday, November 8, 2009

Saturday night at the Red Bean Cafe

We have a Saturday night tradition at our house. We turn on Garrison’s Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion show on public radio. We cook up something slow and savory. We enjoy the evening together.

Nancy started out the evening on the patio next to the fireplace.

She was soon joined by some friends.

I was inside working on some red beans and rice. Jim Schroeder sent me a recipe. He wrote, "If you want to fill the house with an aroma- try the attached recipe for red beans and rice. This is my own adaptation of how real Cajuns make the dish. I like it hot, hot, some prefer to tone it down a little. Molasses is the "secret" ingredient- nice mix of sweet and hot between the molasses and cayenne pepper.

In a previous post I wrote about making a Mirepoix. Cajun cooking starts with a roux and the trinity: onion, bell pepper, and celery. Here is Jim's recipe.

Recipe # 30 Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dry red kidney beans (or two cans)
4 TBSP vegetable oil
¼ cup flour
1 medium yellow onion- diced
1 green bell pepper (optional)- seeds removed, cored, diced
1 TBSP crushed garlic
1 TBSP Cajun seasoning (Tony Chachere’s or Zatarain’s)
(or substitue cayenne pepper,oregano, salt, black pepper, basil & oregano to taste)
1/2 cup dark molasses
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
2 (14 oz) cans water
1 TBSP Louisiana style hot sauce
1 lb sliced or cubed smoked sausage (beef, pork or turkey- I like beef Kielbasa for this recipe)

In a large stewpot:
Make a roux (sauté flour into hot oil to a consistency of a thick gravy or thin paste, stirring continuously until medium to deep nutty brown color—just short of scorching). Add diced onion, stir until coated and lightly cook over medium heat until semitransparent. Add green pepper, garlic and seasonings. Stir over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage and lightly sauté until coated and slightly browned. Add beans, diced tomatoes, molasses, hot sauce and water (consistency should be like a thick soup, adjust water as needed). Gently stir. Bring to full boil, then reduce heat and simmer covered for 2+ hours, stirring only very occasionally (avoid over-stirring) until beans are tender.

Alternatively, after ingredients have been combined, the mixture can be transferred to a crock pot and cooked on high for 3-4 hours or until beans are tender.

We let the beans simmer through out the two hour radio show. The beans are best served with rice and a slice or two of crusty homemade bread.

I really enjoyed this dish, and Nancy loved it. She is a real rice- beans-cajun fan. I used canned beans and cut the recipe in half. There was plenty for dinner and a little left for lunch.

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