my first but not my last, red beans and rice


I knew on this trip to Montana that I'd be making Cook's Illustrated's version of Red Beans and Rice.  I had this traditional southern meal in South Carolina in January and it was oh so good.  When I got my CI in the mail with their version, I figured it was a good place to start.  I also knew making it for Benjamin would be good- in that he's had his share of red beans and rice and he could be a legit critic.  Well, I like this dish oh so much, and he approves as well.  He agreed there is a good hit of spice that runs throughout, and the only thing missing was Filet Gumbo.  


Although I had quick brined beans before, I decided I'd soak them in salt water the night before.  The man pad I was in was lacking in salt but they turned out just fine.  I found some salt the next day when I made them and they were great.  For your notes, brine the beans in 4 quarts of cold water with 3 T. salt dissolved in there.  You need to brine this way for 8 hrs, and up to 24.  Before I go on, here's a list of ingredients.  I know you're gonna make this.
 
Ingredients: this is what I used- loosely adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1 pound small red beans (about 2 cups) rinsed and picked over
4 slices bacon, chopped fine.
1 medium onion or 1 cup
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup celery
3 medium garlic cloves-minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne
3 cups chicken broth
6 cups water
8 ounces kilbasa
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
3 scallions

OK.  Heat bacon in a large dutch oven until pretty much cooked- 5-8 minutes.  Add onion, green pepper, and celery- cook and stir frequently until fully softened- 6-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, thyme, paprika, bay leaves, cayenne, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  Cook until fragrant- about 30 seconds.

Stir in beans, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil over high heat- reduce to a simmer and allow to cook 45-60 minutes- stirring every once and awhile.

Stir in kilbasa and 1 tsp. red wine vinegar and cook until liquid is thick and beans are fully tender and creamy- 30 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and sprinkle on more red wine vinegar if you chose.  Serve over rice and sprinkle with scallions and hot sauce- lots of it- if you're Benjamin.

Basic White Rice (though there's nothing basic about this)
I think this rice recipe was dynamite.  I think because when you have good rice, it's great rice.

2 cups long-grain white rice
1 tbs. unsalted butter
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt

Rinse rice in a colander under cold water until the water runs clear.  I did this- and dare I say I think this little step will make you a better cook and make the rice better as well!  Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, 1-3 minutes.  Add water and salt and increase heat to high and bring to a boil- stir to blend ingredients.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes.  Remove from heat, let stand 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork and enjoy!

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