Since my new last name and husband are Cajun (Melancon), I've decided it is pretty imperative I learn to make some Cajun dishes. Plus, they are super delicious and among my favorite things to eat.
The thought of making roux (the thickening agent used in most authentic dishes) was really the only nerve racking thing about getting my hands into Cajun cooking, but red beans and rice seemed like a good place to start.
I've made this recipe about three or four times now, and it gets better everytime, so I think it's share-worthy! (Though, I'm sorry the pictures don't look that good..I'm no food stylist, but I'm not sure there's a way to make red beans and rice look pretty).
Anyway, here's this super easy, delicious recipe. It's not fancy, but it makes people happy!
- 1/2 bag red kidney beans
- 1 lb Conecuh sausage
- 1/2 yellow onion
- 1/2 bell pepper
- 3-4 cloves of garlic
- 3-5 sticks of celery
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning
- Louisiana hot sauce
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
1. In a large bowl, soak beans overnight (or using a quick soak method). Drain water and rinse, then place in a crockpot with fresh water (covering a few inches over the beans) and let cook all day.
2. Cook sausage on stovetop until blackened. Chop into pieces and throw in crockpot.
3. Finely chop garlic, onion, bell pepper and celery. Place garlic in crockpot with beans, and sauté onion, bell pepper and celery on stovetop until vegetables are very soft and cooked. Celery, onion and bell pepper and the "holy trinity" of Cajun cooking.
4. Now the fun part: roux. To make your roux use a nice sturdy pan (preferably a cast iron). I used a 1:1 ratio of flour and oil, my ratio being a 1/2 cup, which worked well for this sized dish. First, on very low heat, melt the oil. Then add in the flour and stir constantly and slowly until the mixture is a copper color like a penny. You HAVE to be patient while making this, and you shouldn't turn up the heat. If any part of it blackens or burns, you have to start the whole thing over. The darker the roux gets, the thinner it gets. It's really up to you how dark you end up making it.
5. Once that is done, turn the heat off and stir in your "holy trinity" mixture to the roux. Then, pour it all into the crockpot, stir and watch as the magic happens and your mixture thickens. If it becomes too thick, feel free to add water, depending on how soupy you like it.
The final step is to add your seasonings, which are honestly just "to taste." Since most of them are spicy, you should add according to what you (and your dinner guests) prefer. We even set out Tony's and hot sauce on the table when we eat this dish. The longer is simmers in the crockpot, the better, though you can technically eat right away.
Serve over rice and with a side of cornbread!