Red Beans and Rice

Last Saturday I had the honor and delight of participating in a bachelorette extravaganza for a very dear friend. The day comprised lunch and vino around the pool at a posh uptown Charlotte hotel, pampering spa treatments and in the early evening, we reconvened back in the hotel room (and later the lobby) for libations, lace gifts, music, banter, assorted cheeses and fig butter. This led to dinner at a noted restaurant around the corner, more libations, more music and a return to the room for oatmeal cookies, cake and you guessed it, more drinks. All in all it was an intimate, outstanding evening given life and shape by a superb group of young women. A grand time was had by all celebrating our remarkable lady.

As Matthew would have the day to himself, sometime on Friday morning he regaled me with his budding Saturday plans. As the weather was forecast was overly promising, his strategy comprised NCAA viewing with friends al fresco, beer (of course), some time on his beloved chair watching Irish crime films on Netflix and for dinner, red beans and rice from a packet. I was aghast. As someone who is meticulously conscious of his sodium intake, I was a bit surprised by Matthew’s latter confession. So, because I am girlfriend of the year, I offered to replace the rubbish from a packet with the real deal. During a trip to the grocers that Friday evening, I picked up a few odd ends. We are early risers so on Saturday morning, I retrieved the crock pot, chopped my onions, mixed my spices, began browning the sausage, boiled water for rice and in no time, we were vectoring.

When I arrived home in the wee hours of Sunday morning, Matthew was planted on his chair, fast asleep and presumably waiting for my safe return. Best let sleeping dogs lie I thought and hit the hay. Come the morning, I read a missed text message from Matthew sent the night before raving about the red beans and rice. His message was in all caps at that. Upon his rising that morning, I learned that three bowls made dinner. He said this while removing the pot from the fridge and transferring it to the stove. What’s going on I asked?  Breakfast of and for champions he stated with conviction. I held off on the mix for breakfast but did have a satisfying bowl for lunch. It was outstanding and the best part? I know each and every ingredient that went into the lot. Organic beans, organic sausage, organic gluten free rice, my own spices and easy on the salt. It was also beyond easy to pull together. And with that, I share with you our interpretation of Red Beans and Rice.

Red Beans and Rice

You Will Need

16 oz of dried red beans – I prefer the Rancho Gordo "Sangre de Toro" bean
2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
1 package of organic chicken sausages – chopped however you see fit
1 quart of low sodium organic chicken stock
1 14 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes
1 onion – chopped
4 cloves of garlic – chopped
4 ribs of celery – chopped
2 bay leaves
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
1 TBS red wine vinegar
1 TBS Texas Pete – your hot sauce of choice is also perfectly suitable
1 cup of gluten free brown rice
Kosher salt
Spice Mixture – please see recipe below

Spice Mixture

1 TBS salt
1 TBS Hungarian paprika – I love this spice and use it all the time
1 TBS garlic powder
1 TBS fresh black pepper
1 TBS dried parsley
½ tsp cayenne pepper
½ tsp dried oregano
½ teaspoon thyme

Let’s Get Started, Shall We?

1. First matter of business is as follows; please soak your beans in a big bowl with lots of water overnight. Come morning, rinse the beans and pick out any uninviting ones. You may have none! Place your soaked beans in the crock pot.

2. Measure out your spices in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Heat your olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat. Once it is nice and hot, add your onion, celery and garlic. Stir until translucent – this should take a few minutes. Now lower the heat to medium and add your bowl of spices. Give everything a large stir for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Transfer this medley to the crock pot. Right on top of the beans it goes.

4. Throw your chopped sausages in the pan and raise the heat to high. Cook until your sausages begin to brown nicely. Once they are done, add them to the crock pot. Yes, on top of everything else.

5. Now let’s move our attention to the crock pot. Pour in your chicken stock, canned tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, Texas Pete and stir kindly. Top it off with the two bay leaves. Another pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper will do.

6. Put a lid on and cook on high for 8 hours. Within an hour your home will smell incredible and after eight hours, your neighbors will be banging down the doors and climbing the fence asking for an invite to dinner. Serve with the brown gluten free rice.

Please note that this yields an insane amount so three cheers for leftovers.

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