It’s always surprising to people when I tell them I didn’t grow up eating the famous Louisiana dish of red beans and rice. I thought it was because Daddy didn’t like them, but Mama said her mama didn’t fix them either. She said she really did’t know why, but while questioning my Nanny, Alva Jane (her older sister) about it I think we have come to the right conclusion. Nanny said our Cajun ancestors didn’t prepare dried beans because they didn’t have them in France or Canada. They used fresh vegetables instead. So with a little more investigation I found out that dried beans are a product of the West Indies that were imported to New Orleans a long time ago to meet the demands of the Caribbean immigrants. It is well known that red beans and rice is still a Monday meal in New Orleans today. It comes from the tradition that Monday morning was wash day and a pot of red beans with Sunday’s leftover ham bone was put on to cook. Without needing much attention it slowly simmered on the stove as they were busy washing last weeks dirty clothes.
Now I have a ready answer about my red beans and rice deprived upbringing. Red beans and rice is a Louisiana creole cuisine (deemed city food) and not a Cajun cuisine (considered country food). Makes sense to me. I really never considered the dish, nor did I prepare it for my family when my children were still at home, until about ten years ago. I have since been introduced to several different ways of preparing it and how easy, nutritious and delicious those red beans in a rich sauce can be. Especially since it’s served over a mound of our beloved rice. My favorite time to fix it is after a busy day and I’m hungering for a hearty meal that’s quick to get on the table. While most recipes call for dry beans I use canned in order for quick preparation. Va Vite (pronounced vah-veet) means go quickly. It’s a good description of how these beans cook and how they leave your pot.
I’ve had a few readers recently ask for more Instant Pot recipes and I’m more than happy to oblige. I find cooking in this pressure cooker more enjoyable every time I use it. I even moved it from it’s out of reach storage spot in the pantry to a lower shelf for easy access. (“Move over chocolate!”) Therefore, this recipe has instructions for both stove top and pressure cooking.
Here’s the recipe:
Va Vite Red Beans and Rice
3 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 pressed garlic cloves
4 ounces breakfast sausage
12 ounces smoked sausage or andouille sausage, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1-3/4 cups chicken stock, no salt (use 1/4 cup more for stove top cooking)
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 teaspoons Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning
2 bay leaves
1 small bundle fresh thyme leaves (tied with string) or 1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
First, rinse and drain beans.
Whisk the flour into the chicken stock, set aside. Then cook onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic in olive oil for 5 minutes (stirring frequently) in a large pot on the stove top or in your pressure cooker that is set on saute’. Do not brown.
Add breakfast sausage stirring it around and when it starts to brown add the sliced smoked sausage. Continue to stir occasionally. After smoked sausage is lightly browned add the chicken stock, Slap Ya Mama seasoning, bay leaves and thyme. Stir to combine. Then add beans and stir to combine again.
On the stove top let simmer for at least 30 minutes. If using the pressure cooker set it to cook on high for 15 minutes. While red beans are cooking make a pot of rice. You can use my Everyday Rice Every Day recipe found here on the blog. When beans are ready remove bay leaves and tied up bundle of fresh thyme.
Serve a mound of rice on your plate and ladle the red beans over the rice. It’s so good!
Before I go I want to show off this little kitchen gadget I got at The Dollar Tree a few months ago. I use it just about every time I’m cooking in the kitchen. It’s a garlic peeler. You place whole cloves in it, roll it up and down several times on the counter and out comes garlic cloves with no skin on them.
You can clean several at a time and store them in a zip top bag for later use. Before this little tool I was always smashing cloves under a wide knife blade with my fist. Now the rolling is easier and it always works. Just be sure your hands and counter tops are dry while rolling for a sure grip.
Somehow, what’s in our hearts, good or bad is eventually translated into words and deeds. Andy Stanley