With four hungry boys in the house, I am often looking for dishes that are nutritious and loved by the boys without breaking the bank. My little carnivores would love nothing more than to scarf down up to half a pound of meat in one sitting, but my pocket book can’t handle it. Thank goodness I discovered that they love homemade red beans and rice which allows me to stretch the meat while maintaining loads of protein that they need to grow.
Having grown up in the south, I was quite familiar with red beans and rice. However, the super creamy rendition I recall from school cafeterias is full of lard. My personal health consciousness just won’t tolerate adding that much fat for the sake of a creamy texture.
After trying several recipes, I found a Red Beans and Rice recipe on Allrecipes that tasted great and the boys love. Of course, I’ve tweaked it a little for spiciness, although I’ve been upping the heat factor a bit recently. While I typically make it with the sausage, I have kept it vegetarian for me and topped the beans with sausage pieces for the boys.
Making Red Beans and Rice
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Onions, celery, garlic and peppers get sautéed in the pan for a few minutes. We love using Cast-Iron Skillet
for this (and making cornbread!)
After gathering the spices, I measure them all into a small custard cup so it’s one quick ‘dump’ into the pan with the sautéed vegetables.
The beans, water and bay leaf go into the programmable crock pot first with the seasoned vegetables being mixed into the crock.
Four hours on high is a minimum and the setting I’ll use on my programmable crockpot when I get it started by Noon with dinner at 6 p.m. However, I have found that the kidney beans we get in bulk up here are ‘tougher’ and need a longer cook time. So, I need to get it into the pot by 10 a.m. and programmed for 6 hours on high to cook. The programmable crock pot will automatically switch to warm when that time is done.
About half an hour before I plan to serve the meal, I pull about a cup of beans from the pot and mash them (either by hand or in a blender.) Adding them back into the pot to simmer helps to thicken the meal.
If you want the flavor of sausage to permeate the beans, this is the time to add the diced up smoked sausage as well.
Our preferred sides are a tossed salad and a nice wedge of homemade cornbread. And, of course, the red beans is served atop a nice bed of rice (we usually do brown rice.)
What is a favorite dinner dish for your family?
Get the Recipe for Red Beans and Rice
This is adapted from the recipe I originally found on Allrecipes.com.
- 2 pounds kidney beans, pre-soaked
- olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of your pan
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 to 2 green peppers, diced
- 6 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 12 cups water
- 4 bay leafs
- up to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. dried sage
- 2 Tbsp. dried parsley
- up to 2 tsp. Cajun or Creole seasoning
- 1 to 2 pounds of smoked sausage
- In your crock-pot, add the presoaked beans, bay leafs and 12 cups of water.
- Using just enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan, saute the onions, garlic, celery and peppers for several minutes. Alternative, you can use a spray like Pam if using nonstick cookware and wanting to go extremely low fat.
- Add the spices, stirring to completely coat those cooked vegetables. After another few minutes, add the seasoned vegetables to the crock-pot.
- Cook on high for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Approximately one half hour before serving, remove 1 cup of the cooked beans. Mash or puree in a blender and then add back to the pot, stirring well. At this point, you can also add diced smoked sausage to further season the beans.
- Serve over rice.
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