Monday, December 28, 2009

Red Beans and Rice

It's cold and rainy.  I'm making red beans and rice today.  My brother, who's the king of red beans and rice and a recipe geek in his own right, is here.  He is rather aghast at the Cook's Illustrated recipe that I am using.  He believes the 'no salt while beans are cooking' rule.  I told him that I tried it for my soup and it worked really well. He doesn't believe me but I don't care. He's also on a low sodium diet so he wouldn't be able to eat much of it anyhow.
If you'd like the actual recipe, let me know or sign up for a free trial subscription and watch the video.  They're mostly Boston-based at Cook's Illustrated, and they made a lot of variations to get the authentic taste without hard-to-find ingredients.  Some of these variations may make real Louisiana cooks upset.  My brother seemed to think it was a very weird recipe.  Nonetheless, I got my first introduction to red beans and rice when I lived in Boston, and they do have quite a fondness for beans there.  So anyway, the beans get brined.  I cheated and did the quick brining. Chopped bacon is cooked until the fat is mostly rendered, and chopped celery, bell pepper, and onion are cooked until soft.  A mixture of paprika, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and cayenne pepper is then added, followed by the beans, broth, and water.  The mix is then simmered for 45-60 minutes.  As it simmered, it smelled pretty authentic, or at least it smelled like it did when I had it in Boston.
After 45 minutes, I dumped in the andouille sausage and a little bit of vinegar.  At this point I started the rice.  The mix was then simmered for another 30 minutes. When it was done, it tasted pretty authentic, although it was on the soupy side. I used short-grain rice since that's what I had; it did a pretty good job of soaking up the juice.   My parents and brother helped me eat it.  My brother, the pro, said there are two schools of thought on this - soupy vs non-soupy.  I'm used to it being less soupy, so next time I'll add less water.  Nonetheless, it was very tasty and easy to make. 
My brother didn't grumble about the beans, other than to discuss the soupy vs non-soupy debate. They weren't too salty, since I didn't add any additional salt other than that in the sausage and what was in the brine. He went back for more later in the evening, so I knew that  they had come out pretty well.

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