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Updated Southern Cooking
Some food ideas are so good that they crop up again and again in different
cuisines. Such is the case with beans and rice. Here in Tennessee, pinto
beans replace the red beans, and in Florida the bean of choice is black turtle
beans, but the basic idea is the same: cook the beans, the combine them with
meats and vegetables and serve over rice. ďRB&RĒ is traditionally served on
Mondays in New Orleans households. But we need not be slavishly bound by
tradition, now do we? If you agree, you will make and enjoy this recipe, even
(gasp!) on a Friday. One caveat: my rendition of red beans and rice is about
as traditional as bacon at a bar mitzvah, so donít try to pass it off as the
real thing to a genuine Creole person.
While this dish can be made completely vegetarian (see below), most
traditional recipes call for ham and/or sausage. One of its beauties, though,
is the amenability of this recipe to variation, and I have chosen to use
ingredients that are likely to be in your pantry or refrigerator. The recipe
makes four servings, and is easily doubled. It reheats well.
Johnís Heretical Red Beans and Rice
In a large, heavy saucepan or Dutch oven, brown 1/2 pound lean ground beef in
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. As you cook, break up the beef into small
pieces, sprinkling it with Creole seasoning and a pinch of dried thyme leaves.
When the beef is browned, add 1/2 cup each chopped onions, celery and green
bell peppers, along with a bit more Creole seasoning, and saute until the
onion is translucent. Add a minced clove of garlic. Saute one minute. Add
1/2 cup long grain rice and saute a minute longer, or until the rice is coated
with oil. Add 1-1/2 cups beef stock, stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce
heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes. Drain and rinse a 15 ounce can of red
beans and add them to the pot when the rice is done. Stir well over low heat
until the beans are heated through and the rice is fluffy. Serve topped with
chopped scallions and pass hot sauce.
For a vegetarian version, use your favorite ground beef substitute and
vegetable stock. For a traditional Creole flair, use Andouille sausage
instead of ground beef and cook the beans from scratch with a ham hock for
flavoring. Do not drain the beans, but rather use their cooking liquid
instead of the stock called for in the recipe. Do not add the rice to the
pot, but cook it separately. Creole and Cajun cooks make RB&R more like a
thick bean soup with chunks of sausage, and serve it ladled over the rice.
John Tullock is an expert gardener and self-taught cook who likes to
develop new recipes using his own fresh produce and the best from the local
market. His interest in plants and horticulture begin in childhood, and he
holds a masters degree in biology from The University of Tennessee. Now a
full-time freelance writer and author of six books, Tullock also co-owns
"Gardener and Gourmet," a retail business that specializes in rare plants
and fine food products.
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