Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice at Home

Recently, while out doing my grocery shopping, I came across gorgeous andouille sausage and had to have it. I bought a link (7 oz, so it was pretty ample) but by the time I got home, I wasn't sure what to make. Andouille screams Creole or Cajun food, neither of which is anything I have experience with, so I took my husband out to a well regarded Creole/Cajun restuarant and started trying dishes. Gumbo, Etoufee, Jambalaya were all options in my kitchen, but the dish that called to me the most was red beans and rice. A bean and sausage stew, it seemed to be the Cajun version of cassoulet, a personal favorite of mine, so I was decided.

I texted my friend Steph to get recipe ideas (she's a red beans and rice fan) and she steered me towards an Emeril recipe which was my starting point and inspiration. I feel necessary to point out though that mine is not a traditional recipe, mostly because I do not use the New Orleans Holy Trinity of onion, celery, and bell peppers to start as my aromatics. I also feel like Old Bay is used in the South much more for seafood than a dish like this, but the flavors worked for me. Also, most recipes I read cooked the stew on the stovetop at a low simmer, I think the oven is an easier option. The end result may not be "authentic," but it sure is delicious.

Boozy Epicure's Red Beans and Rice

Grapeseed oil (any vegetable oil is fine)
1 andouille sausage (6-8 oz) sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
a couple of sprigs fresh thyme
1 tblsp Old Bay Seasoning
pinch of cayenne (1/4 tsp?)
salt/pepper, to taste
1 smoked ham hock (8-9 oz)
1/2 lb dried red beans, soaked overnight (or 1 can of kidney beans)
4-5 cups chicken stock

Serve alongside: cooked long grain white rice
Garnish with: chopped scallions and parsley

Preheat oven to 325.

Start by browning your andouille slices, then add the onions and celery and saute for a few minutes before adding your garlic. Cook for a minute longer, then add the bay leaf, thyme, Old Bay, cayenne, and salt/pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes then add the ham hock, drained beans (note, if you are using canned beans, do not add them yet!) and enough chicken stock to cover. 

Sausage and aromatics building the base.
Beans, stock and ham hock added.

Bring the mixture to a boil then put in the preheated oven, allowing the mixture to cook until the beans are tender, 2-3 hours. If you are using canned beans, let the mixture cook 2 hours, then add your beans and allow them to cook 30 minutes in the oven. Squash about 1/4 of the beans to thicken the stew. I like to pull them out with a slotted spoon, mash them, then put them back, you can also just mash them with a spoon against the side of the pot. Remove the ham hock, pull the meat off the bone and add it back to the mixture. Remove the thyme and bay leaf. Check for seasoning and add more chicken stock or water to get the consistency you like.

Serve over white rice, garnish with the chopped scallions and parsley.

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