Red Beans and Rice is a Creole dish made popular in Louisiana. Many different cultures have some version of this meal, but this recipe is based on the Louisiana style. In short, it’s a spiced bean and meat stew that’s slow cooked and served over rice. The base is essentially red kidney beans, Creole seasoning, onions, peppers, celery, and your choice of meat.
My recipe might not be traditional, but it sure is delicious. I prefer using Andouille sausage to keep all my flavors closer to Creole cuisine. I’ve boosted the spiciness by using jalapeño for the peppers and by carefully selecting my hot sauce of choice—Cholula—based on it’s flavor and level of heat. While a lot of traditional recipes for Red Beans and Rice will tell you to slow cook this meal all day long, I don’t have time for that and I don’t think you do either. So I go with canned kidney beans to make it a fast weeknight meal that’s on the table from start to finish in less than an hour. We’re talking maximum comfort food that’s good any time of the year.
- 1/2 lb Andouille sausage
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional, only if needed)
- 1/2 medium onion (diced)
- 1 stalk celery (diced)
- 2 medium jalapeño (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 cans kidney beans (reserve liquid)
- 2 tsp vegetable bouillon
- 2 tsp hot sauce (recommend Cholula)
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup white rice
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Rinse 1 cup of white rice. Add it to a small pot with 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Stir well. Cover it again. Continue to cook on very low heat for 12 minutes.
- Remove from heat until ready to serve.
Make the Red Beans
- Slice the Andouille sausage into 1/4-inch thick pieces.
- In a medium pot over medium heat, fry sausage slices on both sides until they start to blacken. This will take about 15 minutes.
- Remove from sausage pot and set aside. Drain leftover fat from the pot until you have about a 1mm layer on the bottom. If there is not enough fat, add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil. Don't scrape the bottom.
- In the same the medium pot, add the diced onions, celery, jalapeño, and garlic. Cook until soft, stirring occasionally. About 5 minutes.
- Add both cans of kidney beans, including the liquid, along with 2 tsp of vegetable bouillon, 2 tsp of hot sauce, 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 cup of water.
- Now add all of the spices: 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp onion powder, 1/2 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp basil, 1/4 tsp cayenne, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp thyme, and 1 bay leaf. Stir well. Taste the liquid and adjust spices as needed.
- Cook for 15 minutes at a soft boil without a lid.
- Carefully find and remove the bay leaf.
- With a potato masher (or fork) smash about half of the beans to thicken the liquid into a stew. Try to keep some beans in large chunks or whole for texture. Cook for 5 more minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir the sausage slices back into the pot. Cover and let sit for 5-10 more minutes.
- Serve on top of the cooked rice.
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Making Red Beans and Rice in a Tiny Kitchen
Prepping the ingredients for this meal is very easy. You chop onions, peppers, and celery, slice a little bit of sausage and your done. The rest is just adding ingredients at the appropriate times. Dishes are also fairly easy. This recipe uses a medium pot for the beans, a small pot for the rice, a potato masher, a cutting board, knife, big spoon, and dishes to eat on. For boondocking and camping purposes, it uses a fairly low amount of water but it does require a stove or fire to cook on.
Go Dark or Go Home
When it comes to browning the sausage, you want to push it to the point where you start to blacken the sides. By doing this you add texture to the sausage that will stick around long after you add it back into the beans. Nobody likes soggy sausage, so don’t be afraid to char it.
You also want to cook your sausage in the same pot that you’ll be cooking your beans in. The brown bits left in the pan (or the “fond”) adds a ton of flavor that you don’t want to lose. However, if you end up with an especially fatty piece of sausage, you might want to drain some of that off before you start your onions. Between those two steps, you want layer of grease that’s about 1mm deep—enough to cover the bottom, but not enough to drown your veggies in fat.
Spicy or Mild?
Okay, so admittedly the spice level in my Red Beans and Rice recipe is fairly high for the average person. If you are not a pepperhead, feel free to substitute a half of a green bell pepper in place of the jalapeños. That’s the more traditional way to prepare it anyway, but in our tiny kitchen we like spicy food so we use jalapeño.
Speaking of spice, there a number of different types of hot sauce you can use. You are perfectly welcome to use Louisiana Hot Sauce or Crystal—both of which are more traditional choices and have less heat. I do not recommend Tabasco hot sauce because it steamrolls the flavors and it ends up tasting like a bowl of Tabasco and beans. I like Cholula the best. The flavors of Cholula play very nicely with Creole spices and I think better flavor and heat.
Vegetarian Red Beans and Rice
To make a vegetarian version of this recipe, start by omitting the steps with sausage (obviously) and add about 1 tbsp of a flavorless cooking oil (vegetable or safflower oil will work) to your pot. Heat it up and continue onto the step where you sauté your vegetables. When you get to the part where you add all your spices, I recommend being a little heavy-handed with the seasoning to compensate for the flavors you’ll lose by omitting the Andouille sausage. Also add in 1/4 to a 1/2 teaspoon of liquid smoke to bring that charred flavor back into the beans. Do this by taste since some people don’t like a heavy smoke flavor in their food. Start with 1/4 teaspoon, stir it in, taste it, and then adjust as needed.
Go make up a pot of this deliciously spicy Red Beans and Rice and let me know what you think. Don’t forget to come back and give me your rating. If you have any questions or find other substitutions that are yummy, feel free add those in your comments! As always, if you like this recipe, please share it on social media so other people know about it too. Let’s eat!