26 October 2010

Red Beans & Rice

We've been eating more beans lately for protein. Since I've started buying healthier meats for our family (organic, grass-fed, no hormones, no antibiotics), we've actually cut back on eating as much because the healthy meat is so expensive. But I would rather cut back some and eat the good stuff, than expose my family to the hormones and other junk in the regular meats.

Since cutting back on meat I'm trying to find different ways to incorporate more beans into our diet other than our usual pinto beans and cornbread. And last night I found a winner: Red Beans and Rice! The whole family liked it! I'm a huge fan of Cajun food anyway, so I was really hoping that I had found a great recipe--and this one is definitely a keeper!

Red Beans and Rice
(American Home Cooking cookbook)
1 lb. dried red beans or small kidney beans
1-1/2 lbs. smoked ham hocks, cut into 1" thick slices
2 medium onions, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
3/4 cup celery, chopped
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
2-3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/2-1 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 cups uncooked rice
Louisiana hot sauce
The night before you plan to cook the beans, cover them with water and soak them over night.* When ready to cook them, don't pour off the liquid; instead dump it with the beans into a large heavy pot. Add the ham hocks**, onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic***, bay leaves, salt, pepper and cayenne and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to a bare simmer and cook the beans, stirring often, until the ham hocks are tender, about 1 hour. Remove the ham hocks and set them aside. Continue cooking the beans, occasionally stirring them, until very tender and somewhat mushy, and beginning to break apart, about an additional 1 hour or so. Add more hot water whenever the beans begin to get dry. There should be plenty of creamy, almost gravylike thick liquid. Pull the meat off the ham hocks in bite-sized pieces and return the meat to the pot. Continue cooking another few minutes. The beans are even better if you can make them far enough in advance to cool, refrigerate, covered and later reheat.
Shortly before you plan to serve the beans, cook the rice according to package instructions. Spoon rice into shallow bowls, then top each with a generous ladle of beans. Serve piping hot accompanied by hot pepper sauce and cornbread.
*I used the quick-soak method on the package and just simmered all afternoon.
**I didn't have any ham or smoked sausage, so I used bacon and it was just as delicious.
***My kiddos are kind of picky (unfortunately) about all these chopped veggies, so I used a dried onion seasoning blend that contained all of these in a tiny, dried form~no one noticed and it was just as flavorful!

(pictures from Google because we ate ours too fast to take a picture:)


Carrie said...

Oh, yum!! I lost my old RB&R recipe, and I've been looking for a new one! I'll have to try this ... as soon as it gets a little cooler here in TX! ;)

Anonymous said...

I started making vegetarian enchiladas. They are so delicious. Of course, my kids won't touch beans so they don't eat them, but me and Michael love them. If you Google 'black bean enchiladas' you'll find a lot of recipes.

Great alternative to regular enchiladas.

We love beans and rice -at least once per week on our meal plan.

Gwen Toliver said...

Another great recipe idea, Lora! I've been using beans a lot more lately just because they're much more economical.