It's Halloween night, which means I've got to feed the kids before getting them into their costumes for trick or treating. Halloween just happens to be on a Monday this year, so I thought, why not red beans and rice? Red beans cooked slowly in a flavorful broth until rich and served with fluffy rice is the perfect Halloween night dinner. I soaked the beans last night and got up a little earlier this morning to prepare the vegetables and put everything in the slow cooker. All I had to do after work today was finish the beans and make the rice.
My version of red beans is traditional except I up the vegetables, omit the ham hock, use smoked spices for flavor, and also add a little tomato paste for sweetness. You can make these beans vegetarian by omitting the sausage and adding cayenne.
**You will need a crock pot or slow cooker for this recipe**
1 pound red kidney beans, picked over and rinsed
1 good, nitrate-free pork or turkey andouille sausage, split lengthwise and sliced
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, minced
1 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons good, organic tomato paste
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 bay leaves
4 cups homemade unsalted chicken or vegetable stock, or low sodium boxed broth
4 cups water
Sea salt and pepper
Night Before Instructions:
1. Pour the dry beans in a large bowl and cover completely with fresh cold water. Make sure there is enough water - the beans will double in size.
The Next Morning:
1. Drain and rinse the beans. Add to the slow cooker.
2. Heat the olive oil and butter over medium high heat in a large skillet until the butter sizzles. Add the sausage and saute until it is slightly brown. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
3. Add the garlic to the pan and saute for about one minute. Add the onion and saute until it starts to turn soft, then add the celery and saute for another minute or two.
4. Add the green and red peppers and saute for about 2 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cayenne, combining well with the vegetables.
5. Add the tomato paste to the middle of the pan and stir until it turns a little bit darker. Pour in about 1/2 cup of the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any bits. Pour the entire contents of the pan into the slow cooker with the beans.
6. Add the rest of the broth, water, sausage, thyme, bay leaves, and parsley to the slow cooker. Cover and set the slow cooker on low. Go about your business for the next 6-8 hours.
7. When you get home, take the lid off the slow cooker and turn the heat to high. Stir the beans well, smashing some with your spoon to thicken. Salt and pepper to taste (I keep the salt to only about 2 teaspoons.) Cook on high for about another 15 -20 minutes, until the beans are thickened and while you cook the rice.
8. Taste for seasoning one more time. Serve hot with brown rice or, even better, with a scoop of Carolina Gold rice.