Cajun Red Beans and Rice

I have always been a fan of Cajun and Creole cooking; the flavors and spices are among some of the best in my mind. In my opinion, great Cajun food simply has soul, and that’s what draws me to it. I grew up on comfort food and to me – Cajun food is just that, comfort food with a kick. So in honor of this past Mardi Gras, I made one of my favorites: Red Beans and Rice.

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Cajun Red Beans And Rice
What you will need:

  • 1 lb. red kidney beans (dry, then soaked overnight in water)
  • 5 Strips bacon sliced to 1” strips
  • 3 Jalapenos chopped (seeds removed)
  • 4 Ribs celery chopped
  • 1 Green bell pepper chopped
  • 5 Cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1 Onion chopped
  • ¾ lb. Andouille sausage thinly sliced (I substituted ¼ lb. with linguisa)
  • 2 tbsp. Cajun seasoning (The recipe below makes more than 2 tbsp. so just store the remainder, its great on fish or chicken)
  • 3 Cups chicken broth (You can substitute with water)
  • 3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 Cups white rice
  • Salt and PepperRendered Bacon

Cajun Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. paprika
  • 2 tbsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tbsp. cayenne powder
  • 1 tbsp. oregano Chopped Andouille Sausage
  • 1 tbsp. thyme
  • ½ tbsp. cumin

Cook

Cook your white rice to the directions on the package and then let them sit, covered until your red beans are done. Make sure to flavor your rice with a little chicken stock, parsley or whatever you desire.

Start with a 6 quart dutch oven and slowly render out the fat of the sliced bacon. You want to do this under medium-low heat so that you don’t burn the bacon but rather pull out all that fat goodness. Before the bacon starts to get crisp pull it out and set it aside.

Next, you will add your Andouille sausage to the pot and cook that under medium-low heat until the sausage starts to brown. Once the Andouille is slightly browned pull it and set it aside.Brown Bits

Caveman Tip*** There should be all sorts of brown bits and grease in the bottom of the pan, that’s perfect, that’s what you want. It’s all those brown bits that help give the Red Beans and Rice those great flavors.

Now add your green peppers, onions, celery, garlic, and jalapenos to the pot at a medium heat. You will want to stir occasionally until the vegetables get soft.

Caveman Tip*** A trio of green peppers, onions and celery in the south is called the “ Holy Trinity” and it’s used as a base for most stews and soups. It’s very similar to the French version of the mirepoix which consists of celery, onions and carrots. Both are great as a base for a lot of dishes

Once the vegetables are soft add in your beans, bacon, sausage, 3 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water and 2 tbsp. of the Cajun seasoning.

Now bring the Red Beans up to a slow boil and then reduce the heat to low and put on the lid. You will want to simmer them for 30-60 minutes or until the beans are soft.

Caveman Tip*** I like to pull the lid off and cook the red beans without the lid  for the last 20 minutes of so, this allows the sauce to reduce and concentrate all those great flavors.Holy Trinity Besides I like my red beans and rice to be a little heartier as opposed to soupy

Once the red beans are done, place some rice in the center of a bowl and pour your red beans around the outside edge of them. I like to top with a little chopped green onion and serve.  It’s delicious.

If you’re a fan of spicy trust me, Red Beans and Rice will become one of your favorites too!

Enjoy!

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Cast Iron Cleaning

Seasoning

Traditional cast-iron skillets don’t emerge from the box with a nonstick surface. That comes with seasoning, or coating the skillet with cooking oil and baking it in a 350° F oven for an hour. It won’t take on that shiny black patina just yet, but once you dry it with paper towels, it will be ready to use. You’ll reinforce the nonstick coating every time you heat oil in the skillet, and you can hasten the process by seasoning as often as you like. Or you can forget seasoning and go with Lodge Logic (available at hardware and cookware stores), a line of preseasoned skillets from Lodge Manufacturing, the oldest U.S. maker of cast-iron cookware.

Cleaning

A cast-iron skillet isn’t ideal for a set-aside-to-soak sort of person. For best results, rinse the pan with hot water immediately after cooking. If you need to remove burned-on food, scrub with a mild abrasive, like coarse salt, and a nonmetal brush to  preserve the nonstick surface; you can also use a few drops of a mild dishwashing soap every once in a while. If the pan gets a sticky coating or develops rust over time, scrub it with steel wool and reseason it. To prevent rust, dry the skillet thoroughly and lightly coat the cooking surface with cooking oil. Cover with a paper towel to protect it from dust.

Tips

  • Although everything from Dutch ovens to cactus-shaped cornbread pans comes in cast iron, nothing is more versatile than a basic skillet. Either a 10- or 12-inch will do.
  • There’s only one thing you shouldn’t attempt in cast-iron cookware: boiling water, which will cause the pan to rust.
  • Cast iron takes longer to warm than other surfaces but retains heat remarkably well and diffuses it evenly.
  • Cast iron remains hot long after you remove it from the stove. As a reminder to be careful, drape a thick towel or a mitt over the handle.
  • To avoid getting smudges on all your kitchen towels, designate one to use exclusively for drying your cast-iron skillet.
  • Cooking in cast iron increases the iron content in food. The longer the food is in contact with the skillet, the more it absorbs.

Coutesy of realsimple.com

Dutch Oven Basic Heat Source

Dutch Oven Basics

Food that requires baking such as biscuits, breads and cakes, needs most of the heat on the top.  Coals should be placed under the oven and on the lid at a 1 to 3 ratio with more on the lid.  For roasting, the heat should be equal with the same number of coals on top as underneath.  For frying, boiling, simmering and stewing, heat should come from the bottom only.  To keep biscuits and other baked food from burning on the bottom, remove the bottom heat after two-thirds of the total cooking time.

To share heat and serve dishes that are similar in cooking time, ovens can be stacked.  This technique requires careful watching to ensure that the bottom oven does not overcook.  [singlepic id=6 w=320 h=240 float=]

Depending on the size of the Dutch oven, each briquette adds between 10 and 20 degrees of heat.  Placement of briquettes is also important, because heat is more evenly distributed if placed in a circular pattern on the bottom and in a checkerboard fashion on the lid.  [singlepic id=5 w=320 h=240 float=]

Remember that it is much easier to raise the heat in a cast-iron oven than to lower the temperature.  Also, temperatures inside the oven will vary according to altitude.  Rotating the oven every ten minutes will also help distribute the heat in a more uniform way.  The lid can also be rotated a third of a turn in the opposite direction every ten minutes.

Basic Briquette Temperature Control Guidelines

Oven Size           Number of Briquettes on Top            Number of Briquettes on Bottom

10 inch                               10 to 12                                                                  8 to 10

12 inch                                12 to 14                                                                10 to 12

14 inch                                14 to 16                                                                12 to 14

16 inch                                16 to 18                                                                14 to 16