I love red beans and rice - when Mr. Moms Kitchen and I were newly betrothed, I used to buy packages of Mahatma Red Beans and Rice and cook it up with some kielbasa on days when I thought I was too busy to cook. I did think I was busy, I guess. I worked 50 hours a week, did a lot of volunteer work, was going to night school to get my MBA. Little did I know that how busy I was barely compared to how busy I am now....still working those hours and parenting 2 teens that can't drive yet. My schedule is currently like a Swiss watch, and I am trying to eat locally when I can. Michigan is internationally known as an excellent supplier of high quality dry beans. The climate, with rich, well drained, loamy soil, moderate daytime temperatures, and cool evenings are suited for bean cultivation.. Over half of Michigan beans are exported throughout the world. So, I decided I needed a practical recipe to make red beans and rice that would let me get them on the table in 30 minutes using local beans. Plus, I was thinking homemade would give me more fiber than the paltry 6g per servingand less sodium than the 64% daily allowance (whopping 1780 mg) in the prepared mix.
I started with a recipe from Lucinda Scala Quinn's Mad Hungry cookbook. I totally love this cookbook....it is great and every recipe in it is a winner. I regularly make Lucinda's blueberry muffins for breakfast. I wanted to modify her recipe so I could make it when I truly AM BUSY when I get home from work and have 45 minutes to cook and eat before it's off to the races again to take the cherubs to music lessons, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, drama club, anime club, ski club, religious education, etc. Here's what I came up with....
Serves 6 main dish servings
Ahead of time
1 lb. Michigan dried red kidney beans
On the day you are cooking it:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 celery stalks, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 red or green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
A couple of leftover pieces of fried bacon
2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf, crushed
1 lb kielbasa, cut into 6 inch pieces then again lengthwise
For the rice
1 cup white rice
1.5 cups water
Whenever you have time, make the beans. I like the quick method: In a large pot, add 3 cups of hot water to each cup of beans (or 6 cups for each pound.) Bring to a boil and cook the beans at medium heat for 2 minutes. Cover the pot and let the beans stand for 1 hour. Drain and rinse the beans, and simmer for 1-2 hours until tender. Freeze them until ready to use.
On the day you are cooking, take the beans out of the freezer to thaw in the morning.
Heat a large pot. Swirl in the oil. Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until soft and lightly caramelized, 11 to 12 minutes. Add the bacon, Tabasco sauce, salt, thyme, and bay leaf. Continue to cook until the beans are soft and tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat kielbasa until browned and hot in a frying pan.
Here's the easiest way in the world to make rice....pefect every time....put rice and water in a tall microwave safe container with a vented lid. Heat for 4 minutes on HIGH and 12 minutes on DEFROST. Fluff with a fork.
Serve beans over rice with a side of kielbasa.
Nutrition notes....per serving, the red beans and rice recipe yields 21g fiber vs. the 6 g in the prepared mix. Plus, it only has 640 mg per serving of sodium.