Friday, January 15, 2010

Red beans and rice

Another Southern classic; cheap, versatile, filling.

There are a number of different ways to make this. The variation I made last night is in no way authentic; it involved chorizo, tomatoes and brown rice instead of white. But the great thing about red beans and rice is that you can make it in a bunch of different ways, depending on what you have in your pantry.

I use dried red beans (soak overnight, then cook all day on low in a crockpot; THEN cook in this dish. That eliminates all the side effects of beans. You can use canned beans, but then you still get the side effects and the texture is a lot mushier.). Start with some sort of meat; I've used chorizo, Italian sausage, andouille sausage, ground beef, ground pork, country ham, prosciutto, ham hocks, and bacon. Use any of the above, or whatever you've got. You could also increase the amount of vegetables and liquid and make this a purely vegetarian dish. Cook the meat down a little and add onions, garlic and green peppers. Cook for a few minutes and add the beans. At this point I add a couple cans of tomatoes; but tomatoes aren't an authentic part of the dish, so you can eliminate those if you wish and add broth instead. Add seasonings--chili powder, cayenne pepper and cumin are good, but whatever--and start the rice. I used brown rice last night because that's what I had, but you can also use basmati or just plain old regular rice. Serve a big heaping mound of rice with lots of red bean mix on top.

Cost: dried beans, maybe 50 cents. Two links of chorizo, a little over a dollar. Tomatoes, a little over a dollar for two cans. Rice in bulk, everything else a pantry staple...less than three dollars total, for at least 6 and maybe 8 full servings. That's between 40 and 50 cents per serving, and you can whip this together in less than 20 minutes.

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