I’m going to go ahead and say right now that I have absolutely zero idea how authentically “Cajun” today’s recipe is, having never actually been to the great state of Louisana. All I know is that it is very possibly one of the tastiest things to come out of my kitchen in recent weeks.
There are few things more satisfying than a big bowl of cooked rice topped with saucy, spicy, tender red beans and smoky sausage rounds then crowned with green onions and sour cream. Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot, as the saying goes, you can weather it better with a bowl of this under your belt. It is one of the few comfort foods that does hot or cold weather conditions equally well.
On a wild hare, I decided to throw my usual red beans and rice ingredients into my slow-cooker and see what happened. I figured that the worst case scenario would be a flavourful mush and the best case scenario would be the world’s easiest and wickedly economical dinner. I turned my best beloved slow-cooker to high, let ‘er rip, and walked away for six hours.
The next six hours were spent trying fervently not to eat everything in the pantry because it smelled so ever loving good in this house that I thought I might die. I repeatedly broke the cardinal rule of slow-cooking and crockpot-ery by lifting the lid and testing and re-testing beans to see if they were (oh please oh please oh please) done yet. After those agonizing six hours were up, I was rewarded with the easiest -and easily the best- red beans and rice I had ever made.
The facts that it didn’t heat up my kitchen and that the hardest part of the whole procedure was keeping myself from eating it before it was done were just gravy. My word, friends, it was so good.
So good, in fact, that I made a double batch again later that week and plan on making it for company when we receive a houseful of family for my brother’s wedding next month. It’ll be just thing; set it up and let it cook while running around for rehearsals, making the wedding cake, and trying to get five boys who’d rather not see the inside of a shower ready for their uncle’s wedding. Pray for me folks. It’s the getting the boys ready that’s giving me palpitations.
There is one grave danger attendant to making this recipe. It smells so good while cooking that there is a very real possibility that you will gnaw off your own leg of that of someone nearby.
I have just a couple of other thoughts to share about this recipe.The Creole Seasoning is wonderful to have on hand for recipes that call for it, to be sure, but we like to use it on other things, too. For instance, we love it on popcorn or homemade tortilla chips.
I like to make it really spicy and then mellow it out in my own bowl with a big dollop of sour cream. I think a fistful of grated Cheddar would do something similar if you’re so inclined. To do this, I tend to use the higher amount of cayenne pepper I specify in the recipe.
On the other hand, you could just keep the spice to a minimum in the first place. If you’d like to keep it on the milder side, cut back on or omit the additional cayenne pepper (above and beyond the small amount that is already in the Creole Seasoning) from the recipe.
I know andouille is the sausage darling of Cajun/Creole cooking, but it can be hard to find in these parts, so I most often make mine with smoked sausage. I absolutely love it this way, so do not feel like your ability to make this spicy, smoky classic hinges on the availability of andouille.
- 3 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1½ tablespoons dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 10 cups water
- 3 cups small red chili beans (about 1½ pounds), rinsed and picked over
- 1 pound smoked sausage or andouille, sliced into ¼ to ½-inch rounds
- 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium cooking onion (yellow or white), peeled, trimmed of root and blossom ends, and diced
- 1 rib celery, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon Creole Seasoning
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- ⅛-1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (according to heat preference)
- For Serving: Hot cooked rice and green onions
- Add all of the ingredients to a small mixing bowl bowl and toss together with a fork or a whisk. Store, tightly covered, in a jar or other airtight container in a cool, dry place. This is good for about a year after mixing.
- Add the water, beans, sausage, red bell pepper, celery, Creole seasoning, thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf to the bowl of a slow-cooker. Add the lid and turn the heat to "HIGH'. Let it cook for 6 hours, stirring once or twice. After 6 hours, use a spoon to fish out a bean to test. If it is tender, turn off the heat. If it is still underdone, replace the lid and cook for another hour or until the beans are tender. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
- Gently stir the contents of the slow-cooker before ladling over bowls of hot, cooked rice. Garnish with chopped green onions and -if desired- sour cream.
- Store leftover beans tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or freeze in individual portions for longer storage: up to 6 months.