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!

Chicken Fried Steak With Sausage Gravy

We spent last Saturday afternoon at a street fair in Fountain Hills AZ. It was wonderful time; the streets were filled with food vendors, artists and other miscellaneous Chicken Fried Steakbooths with interesting items for sale, along with a beer garden or two. We picked up a few things here and there – mainly some salsa and spices, most of these small vendors use fresh ingredients and have pretty good product. There were two companies I really liked and brought home some items from both their shops, Natura Spice Company out of Scottsdale AZ and Starlight Herb and Spice Company out of Idaho. Both have great spices and I would recommend giving them a try if you every get the opportunity.

So the reason I bring up spices is because of the number one problem I find with most foods when we eat out, and that is the lack of spices. One of the vendors there had what they were calling fresh Alaskan salmon; honestly I was kind of pumped to give it a try, especially when I saw the Salmon Chowder. We split a bowl and it had large chunks of salmon in it with some other good flavors, but it was lacking the basic seasoning like salt and pepper that would have made that dish so much better.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my brother, the Executive Chef, or the countless hours of food network, it’s always taste your food and add those basic spices like salt and pepper.

This dish is one of my all-time favorites for both breakfast and dinner, but if you don’t season it or the gravy properly – you get just a bland meal.

Seasoned Flour

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What you will need:

  • 2 Cubed steaks pounded thin
  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour (seasoned)
  • 2 Eggs beaten (seasoned with S&P)
  • Frying Oil (peanut or other high temp oil)Seasoned Chicken Fried Steak
  • Green onion or flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • Salt and Pepper

Seasoned Flour

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 2 tbsp. dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. saltFrying Chicken Fried Steak
  • 2 tbsp. fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tbsp. cumin
  • ¼ tbsp. cayenne or some red pepper flakes

Prep

In a shallow frying pan heat up about 2 inches of the frying oil over medium to medium high heat. While the oil is heating up, take your cube steak and pass if through the flour, then egg then flour mixture. You will want to repeat this process for as many steaks as you are cooking.

Cook

Once the oil is nice and hot, but not smoking, you will want to carefully lay the steaks in the pan and shallow fry them. It should takChicken Fried Steake about 4-6 minutes per side depending on how hot your oil is. Keep an eye on them as they will burn quickly. Once both sides are browned place them on a paper towel to drain off the grease and serve with your favorite gravy. Nothings better than a good sausage gravy in my mind and you can find a good one at my county sausage gravy recipe.

Enjoy