Cajun-Style Red Beans & Rice
Making Southern staples is always a fun part of my cooking routine. And I love making foods that share similar food histories to what I grew up eating, like my version of Cajun red beans and rice. Growing up on comida criolla, which literally translates to Creole food, it’s pretty amazing to know that Puerto Rican cuisine stems from the same background. Sharing similar methods of preparation, flavor profiles, and ingredients, both cuisines go hand-in-hand.
I didn’t look up a recipe or method for this dish: I honestly made it the same exact way that I make my Puerto Rican style beans and gandules guisados. Same concept, right? Start out with a seasoning base, the holy trinity in Cajun/Creole cooking: onion, celery, and green pepper. Their version of sofrito. Next, add the beans, season it up, and add the liquid. Cook down. Serve over rice. Easy peasy. See how similar it is?
For this meal, I used dried beans that I soaked overnight. I find that using soaked beans yields in a more tender and creamy sauce and texture-wise? Dried beans are undefeated. Canned beans are great for convenience and my go-to during a busy week, but for this? Take the time to soak the beans the night before. Trust me.
Cajun-Style Red Beans & Rice
Cook time: 1 hour
1lb andouille sausage, sliced
2 small yellow onions, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
3 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, whole
2 large bay leaves
2 heaping tsp smoked paprika
1 bag of pink or red beans, soaked overnight
3 tbsp tomato paste
6 cups of water
Cayenne pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, to taste
2 tbsp butter
Green onion, thinly sliced, for garnish
Steamed white rice
In a heavy-bottomed pot, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Over medium heat, add the sliced andouille sausage and render down the sausage until the fat is released. After about 10 minutes, add the diced onion, diced green pepper, and sliced celery. Liberally season with kosher salt and black pepper and stir well.
Cook the sausage and vegetable mixture for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and the green pepper and celery are starting to look tender. Add the whole garlic cloves, bay leaves, and smoked paprika. Stir again.
Next, add the soaked beans and fold into the pot. Stir in the tomato paste and warm through until the paste starts to dissolve. Add the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
After the first 30 minutes has passed, stir well and adjust the seasoning. Then, add the cayenne pepper and hot sauce to taste. If you like it really spicy, go crazy. This will be personal preference. Stir well and then cook uncovered for another 30 minutes or until the beans are creamy and tender (you want them to start splitting a little bit).
Right before serving, add the butter and stir. Then, pour into a large bowl and add a small bowl’s worth of steamed white rice on top. Garnish with sliced green onion and extra hot sauce if you like. This goes great with an amazingly rich buttermilk skillet cornbread which you can find on my friend Angela’s blog, The Kitchenista Diaries.