Friday, May 15, 2020

Lockdown Red Beans & Rice

Here we are two months (!) into the COVID-19 quarantine, and what was once utterly bizarre has become its own bizarre version of "normal." I've been cooking pretty much every day - which sometimes entails augmenting leftovers - and a few new favorites have emerged, with today's recipe a notable example.

Let me begin by admitting that I make no claims to authenticity, especially since the first time I attempted this dish was a week or so into lockdown and we were running low on pretty much everything except spices, with which I always seem magically well supplied. I did, however, have a lot of canned beans, so I hit the internet and settled on Kittee Berns' recipe as a basic model with (as you'll see) some changes. The end result was so delicious that I've already made two batches since that first try, and it's now in regular rotation. This dish is hearty and really only needs rice as an accompaniment, but a side of creamed spinach never comes amiss; you might also make some mashed sweet potatoes, to ensure you're eating the rainbow!

Red Beans and Rice
~ 2 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
~ ½ tsp. salt
~ A few generous grinds of black pepper
~ 1 large carrot diced
~ 1 large stalk celery, diced
~ 1 small bell pepper, diced
~ 3 cloves garlic, minced
~ 1 generous tsp. each: Creole seasoning, smoked paprika, thyme
~ ½ tsp. each: cayenne, chili powder
~ 2 bay leaves
~ 3 tbsp. tomato paste mixed w/1 cup hot water
~ 2 cans kidney or other red beans
~ Cooked white rice to serve

~ Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pot and add the chopped onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook on medium-low for 5-7 minutes, until softened but not brown.
~ Add the carrots, stir, and cook 3-4 minutes more before adding the celery and bell pepper and cooking another 5 minutes or so.
~ Add the garlic and the dry seasonings and stir well; cook another minute until fragrant.
~ Pour in the tomato paste/water mixture, stir well, and then add the beans with their liquid. Cover the pot and raise the heat to high until things just start to bubble, then turn it back down to low, crack the lid, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
~ Remove the lid and continue cooking another 20-30 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and you have a thick stew (you can add some more water if it seems too dry, but this hasn't been my experience).
~ Fish out the bay leaves, taste for seasoning, and serve with white rice and (optional) hot sauce.

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