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Make the best Sausage, Red Beans and Rice from a can ever!

By Mona Austin

Every restaurant that bears the moniker "Cajun" or "Creole" does not live up to serving true cuisine from the bayou.   For instance, all Sausage, Red Beans and Rice dishes are not created eqaul.  The Creole or New Orleans style versionof the dish meets the eye with an immediate distinction -- the bean gravy lazily rests on everythingon the plate.  Time is the main ingredient in getting the cohesive balance of texture and taste in this well loved week night meal.  When dining out does not produce what you are looking for, do it yourself!  In the case of  Sausage, Red Beans and Rice, one of the most fabled food in the Big Easy, it is easier than you think.

Cooking an "authentic" pot of Louisiana's Monday dinner staple  was traditionally done on "wash day" because the dish can remain on the stove unattended for hours. Women would take care of laundry without worrying about the food burning or watching the pot. Once the work was done families used to sit down at the dinner table to enjoy a pot of beans that formed its own thick pot liquor by slow cooking all day long.  

Like most Southern cooks, Louisiana cooks take pride in making everything from scratch. Typically, Camellia red beans are used because they are known to make their own gravy. These dried beans are soaked over night (sometimes with a dash of soda powder in them to reduce their gas producing properties). The next day they are either prepared in a cast iron pot or a pressure cooker. Many women today work outside of the home and still want their families to have healthy meals, but may find this method too time consumptive.

Recently I discovered a short cut for red beans done right in a fraction of the time. I used canned beans, specifically the Hanover brand!  These were some of THE BEST Sausage, Red Beans and Rice I have ever eaten or cooked and they definitely tasted homemade.   

Using the basics below you will be on your way to capturing crowd pleasing flavor.

Ingredients for the Best Sausage, Red Beans and Rice Ever
  • A smoked meat such as ham hock, tasso or ham bone to boil in beans.
  • Andouille Sausage or a thick smoked sausage such as Polksa Kielbasa
  • The "trinity": A combination of celery, onions and bell peppers that is used in most Louisiana dishes.
  • Tony Chacheres Creole Seasoning or make your own using cayenne pepper, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and celery salt.
  • Bay leaf and parsley.
Tip: Sautee the sausage and add it to the pot during the last 30 minutes to an hour  to prevent curving and loss of flavor. Use full bay leaf while cooking and add the parsley to the finished product.

How I achieved "lazy" bean gravy from canned Hanover Red Beans
  • Pour the contents of 3 large cans of  light red kidney beans into a heavy pot.  
  • Add an eqaul amount of water and the seasonings above.  Boil for 30 minutes.
  • Add 3 bay leaves. Lower heat and cover pot. If desired add more water. Cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally and mashing beans to desired consistency.
  • Add pre-sauteed sausage during the last 30 minutes of cooking.
  • Serve with rice and a ash of parsely on top.
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