Adapted from Alton Brown’s fabulous recipe, this hearty donburi-type dish recently became an instant favorite in our regular dinner rotation. Not willing to pickle our own pork (for the time being), we found that using thickly-sliced slab bacon makes the whole texture of the dish turn to silk. You could leave the bacon out for a vegetarian/kosher version of the dish, but a good portion of the flavor and texture will be missing.
It seems funny to post about this hearty, belly-warming stew in the 90-100 F heat of July, but I assure you, once you get a taste of this from your own kitchen, you’ll want to enjoy some in the comfort of your own home with the A/C turned on!
Recipe: Red Beans and Rice
Makes 6-8 servings.
For red beans:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4-6 ounces of thick-sliced or slab bacon (preferably rind-on), sliced across the grain to create thin strips/lardons
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 quarts (8 cups) water
- 1 pound small red kidney beans, pink beans, or preferably a mix of the two, rinsed and picked of debris
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Place the vegetable oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the bacon, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high.
- Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. It is now a good time to start the rice! (see steps below)
- Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.
Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking the beans. Place the water into a(n electric) kettle and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil place the butter into a 3-quart saucepan, set over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble, add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the water over the rice and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
An alternative to this process would be to cook the rice in an electric rice cooker (we have an old, massive 10-cup Zojirushi model from way back when that continues to serve us valiantly, even with its lid taped down instead of a working latch), which is how we usually do it. For proportions, use the ratio of rice to water that your machine calls on, and then just add in the butter and salt. I usually start up the machine in the last 30-40 minutes of cooking so the beans and rice finish around the same time.
Serve the beans over the rice, over bread, over anything or just eaten by themselves. Trust me, you’ll never see red beans the same way again!
About this author: My approach to food has always been to taste first and ask questions later, which is why I am attracted to or at least interested in nearly every type of flavor food can exhibit. With an extensive background of study in the language and culture of Japan, I initally became interested in food preparation with regards to traditional homestyle dishes such as niku-jaga ("meat and potatoes" stew) and atsu-age tofu, but one thing led to another and food began to "consume" my brain in a way that started showing up in everything I cooked from then on. This blog serves as another step on the path towards my culinary enlightenment *^_^* Read more from this author...