On Red Beans and Rice and Chilly Weather

Photographic proof that Dallas gets cold sometimes. This is the fountain in our courtyard.

It looked this way for days, and I was thrilled. I love the colder weather. I know, I’m at outlier. It’s ironic that I’ve spent most of my life living in quite-warm to absolutely-freaking-hot parts of the US.

Now, I’m willing to admit my love of snowy days, rainy, overcast days, and simply cold days could be a by-product of living in those hot places for so long. That it’s the novelty of the chilly that is enjoyable, accompanied as it is with the underlying knowledge that this won’t last long.

Or could be that growing up in a badly insulated house in Dubuque, Iowa gave me the chops for winter weather. Or perhaps my British and German heritage predisposes me to it by thoughtfully providing “extra insulation” that’s stubborn about going away no matter the diet or exercise plan.

Chilly weather is also an opportunity to make my favorite soups and stews. I prefer recipes that are more about assembling than anything else. And you only have to wash a cutting board, a knife, and the pot you cooked in. And yes, the bowls and spoons you eat it with. Don’t quibble with me.

This week I made Red Beans and Rice, and it came out SO WELL. Below is my very own recipe for a big pot of it. You can tweak the heat of it if you’re one of those weirdos who likes to scorch their mouth. Bless your heart. This took me about 45 minutes to chop and throw together (outside of the bean soak). It made a hot, nourishing meal that had us wantiing seconds. Below recipe easily feeds 6 people, and the leftovers freeze well.

RED BEANS AND RICE

INGREDIENTS

1 bag dried red beans (Yes, you can use canned beans, I won’t judge you. Not as good though, imo. You need 4 cans of red beans if you opt for this, don’t rinse them.)

1 box chicken or veggie stock

Olive oil to coat bottom of the pot

1 large bunch celery

2 large yellow onions

3 bell peppers, I use all the colors

4-5 garlic cloves

1-2 cups water

1 package Andouille chicken sausage (or any sausage, or no sausage if you’re veggie)

¼ cup of red wine vinegar

Za’tar spice (new to me, but OMG so good), Paprika, Cumin, Thyme, Red Pepper flakes, 2 Bay leaves, salt and pepper

Brown rice

METHOD

Soak dry beans for about four hours and then cook in your stock (enough to cover the beans by about a quarter inch, save the rest for later) – I use an Instapot, and it’s a lifesaver. The beans can wait while you finish the rest. If you use canned beans, dump them in when indicated below.

Put olive oil in the bottom of a big stock pot to coat.

Chop veggies – I get the celery going first, then add the onions and then the onions and garlic, and finally the peppers. Sautee until they are all soft.

If adding sausage, dice small and cook separately. You can add shrimp in too, if no one in your house is allergic.

Add in whatever is left of the stock, water, and red wine vinegar to the pot.

Dump in your cooked meat, and then the cooked beans and the stock from Instapot. Add in the spices – I did about 2T for each, except for the Red Pepper flakes. Those just get a tiny pinch. Tuck in bay leaves. Eyeball it. If it looks like it needs a bit more water, add it. Let it simmer together on low.

Wash out your Instapot and put in the brown rice, let that cook. By the time rice is done, the flavors in the pot will have melded together. Add salt and pepper to taste, or let people do their own at the table. It’s even better the next day. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

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