Two years ago, when I decided to try making Red Beans and Rice, I was on the hunt for frugal meal ideas. I wanted to add more frugalness to my Master Menu Plan for when times are a little leaner than others. Sadly, this does not fall into the category of frugal in my mind, but it is a rather inexpensive meal. While it is inexpensive, it is so yummy!
I have learned to embrace my crock pot! I use it for cooking dried beans over night so they are ready for the next day. This keeps me from having to soak, speed cook, blow torch and whatever else you would have to do to cook those little pieces of hardness to use in a recipe. If you are in an area like me, where dried small red beans are few and far between, but you can find canned red beans, use them. I have and they worked out beautifully! Kidney beans can even be used, but... yeah, my husband and son do not think of them as the perfect bean for Red Beans and Rice.
I'm all for not using every pot and pan in my kitchen to prepare a meal. I love the idea of cooking in one pot and this is the perfect recipe to do just that, after you have the beans cooked.
Since moving to Montana, I am no longer able to find andouille sausage. I use a smoked polish sausage and add a little more heat with the cayenne pepper.
Be prepared for amazing leftovers, since the juice thickens over time. YUM!
Red Beans and Rice
1 pound dried small red beans
½ pound of bacon, chopped
1 package (14oz) andouille sausage or smoked sausage, sliced
1 large onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
black pepper, to taste
4 teaspoons cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 teaspoon dried basil
2 bay leaves
2 quarts of water
salt to taste, if needed (at the end of cooking)
Sort and rinse beans and place into a crock pot, adding water to cover beans plus about an inch or so. Do not add any seasonings or salt, cook on low overnight. When ready to cook the rest of the ingredients, drain the beans and keep them in a separate container until ready to use.
In a large pot, cook the bacon until lightly cooked. Add the sausage, onion and bell pepper to the bacon and sauté the veggies until tender. Add the seasonings to the mixture and cook for about 3 minutes. Add the beans to the pot and the two quarts of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered for about 30 minutes. If you need to thicken the juice, remove about a cup of the beans and mash them and return to the pot. Serve over hot, cooked rice.
If you try the recipe, let me know!