Red beans and rice is another meal that we like to keep on hand in the freezer. It freezes very well, and all we have to do on a long workday is cook some rice and microwave a container of red beans and rice.
This isn’t just some mundane TV dinner, though. The rich, concentrated flavors in our red beans and rice make this recipe a superstar for any day of the week.
A Meat Forward Red Beans and Rice
My red beans and rice is considerably meatier than you might typically find. What can I say? I’m mostly a carnivore. Everything else is just garnish.
In this recipe, I like to use 100% pork sausage from Prasek’s Family Smokehouse in El Campo, Texas. I order it in bulk online and keep it in my chest freezer until I need it. I grew up around that part of Texas, and the German roots to the sausage out there are incomparable. I’m so spoiled by it that I can’t bring myself to buy most of the sausage that’s found on grocery store shelves where I live now.
The next type of meat that’s added is called tasso ham. If you aren’t familiar with tasso, it’s just a small spicy Cajun ham. It more closely resembles a country ham than the regular ham you find on the shelf at your local grocery store. You can buy tasso online at Cajun Grocer or make your own.
I prefer to make my own. It’s cheap as dirt, and I can make it the way I like it. If you don’t want to make your own and aren’t up for ordering it online, just substitute smoked ham (not sweet).
In many recipes for red beans and rice, you’ll see that they cut the sausage into large disks. I don’t like to do that. I feel that the sausage pieces should be chopped much smaller so that they’re little smaller than bite-sized. That way, your guests aren’t trying to bite little pieces off of the sausage and they get other ingredients in their spoons as they eat.
I quarter the sausage longways, then chop it into 1/2-inch pieces. I do the same for the tasso.
Reducing The Liquid and Salt Levels
In this recipe, we continually reduce the added chicken stock until it is au sec. Au sec is a French culinary term that refers to reducing a liquid until it is nearly dry (it actually means “nearly dry” in French).
By doing this over and over again, we are concentrating the flavors of the chicken stock.
You want to be very careful when you do this that you don’t over reduce your liquid. You could end up scorching your ingredients. You also may want to use homemade stock that doesn’t include any added salt.
The store-bought stuff has added salt.
When you reduce a liquid, you don’t reduce the salt. It just becomes more and more concentrated.
Homemade stock is tastier anyway.
Cory’s Cajun Seasoning
I like to make my own Cajun Seasoning to add to various things that I cook. I make it myself because I don’t want to add salt to my spice mixes. It’s added to the stuff you find at the store because it’s cheap, and you’re paying a premium price for it.
If salt is added to your spice mix, you have to adjust for it when cooking. Sometimes, like when you dry brine meat, it can end up causing you to over-salt.
In this recipe, you’ve already brined the kidney beans. In addition to that, the tasso also has quite a bit of salt. You won’t need much more.
- 3 tablespoons regular chili powder (McCormick’s Dark is good)
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 1 tablespoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
Just mix everything together and put it into a resealable container.
This recipe can be a bit spicy. If you like, you can adjust the heat down by reducing the amount of cayenne or even substituting additional regular chili powder for the chipotle chili powder.
Wrapping it Up
One final note on this recipe-the claim that adding salt to beans when you cook them will make them hard has been debunked. In fact, they have shown that salting the water you soak your beans in overnight will actually help soften up the skins.
We tried it, and it worked. Who knew?
What does cause beans to seize up is acidic ingredients like tomatoes. There aren’t any in this recipe, so there’s nothing to worry about.
Red Beans and Rice
- 1 lb. red kidney beans, dried - soaked and brined overnight
- 1 tbs. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. smoked sausage - 1/2" dice
- 12 oz. tasso - 1/2" dice (or, substitute ham or more sausage)
- 2 tbs. unsalted butter - divided
- 1 large yellow onion - finely diced
- 1 large red bell pepper - seeds and veins removed, finely diced
- 1-2 jalapeno pepper(s) - seeds and veins removed, finely diced
- 2 celery ribs - finely diced
- 1 bunch green onions - finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic - minced
- 1 tbs. tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tsp. Cajun Seasoning (salt free) - see recipe above to make your own
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- 4 bay leaves
- Morton's Kosher Salt - to taste
- 2 tbs. green onion - finely chopped (for garnish)
- The night before, add kidney beans to a large bowl, along with 1 tablespoon of salt. Cover with water by at least 2 inches. Cover and let sit overnight.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium-high heat, when the oil begins to smoke, add the sausage and tasso. Sear, stirring on occasion. When parts start sticking to the pan, deglaze with ¼ cup chicken stock. Cook until evaporated. Transfer to a plate.
- Add butter to pan. Once melted, add onion. Cook approximately 5 minutes. When it starts to stick, add ¼ cup chicken stock and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove stuck on bits. Reduce until the pan is nearly dry.
- When onion starts to stick again, add ½ cup stock along with the bell peppers, jalapeno, scallions, celery, spice mix, a pinch of salt, bay leaves, oregano, garlic and tomato paste. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove stuck on bits.
- Return the sausage and tasso to the pot. Add 1 cup broth. Reduce by half.
- Add the balance of the chicken stock and the drained kidney beans. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Open the pot and smash several beans up against the side, stir back in, cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Add a little hot water if, at any point, the beans are not submerged.
- Check to see if your kidney beans are tender. If they are soft, either reduce the level of stock by boiling rapidly until it reaches a gravy-like consistency. Once it has reached the proper consistency, taste to check if it is salted properly. Add more salt, if necessary. Stir and remove from heat. It could take up to an additional half-hour to get your kidney beans to the proper tenderness. Factors such as the mineral content of your water, the age of the dried beans, and the exact temperature you are cooking at can make the cook time vary.
- Fill bowls with your red beans and plenty of gravy, top with a scoop of white rice, and garnish with chopped green onions.