Zatarain’s boxed dishes have my favorite flavors in red beans and rice, but I prefer my own cooked rice. Uncle Ben’s is my favorite there!
Beloved Husband isn’t crazy about spicy foods. GERD keeps it from being a pleasure for him and pushing the limits on his acid reducer just for a little flavor is ridiculous. So, we adjust for his tastes.
As with most of the red bean recipes, I start with:
1 tablespoon margarine (I know, butter’s better, but this is better for us)
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning. Tony Chachere’s has been a family favorite for some time -- and you may want to use twice as much as we do.
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped celery
2 small minced garlic cloves
You’ll note the missing bell pepper. Again, a nod to Beloved’s stomach. Most recipes include at least a half cup, if not a full cup of chopped bell pepper. Using yellow or red ones adds a bit of color, too.
Melt the butter over medium heat then sauté the onion, celery and garlic with the seasonings. Do not over cook and absolutely do not burn. You’d have to start again.
Add a cup of cubed smoked sausage. We use turkey sausage, keeping calories down – which does negate some flavor, too. Perk up the smokes sausage and you’ll perk up the flavor. Adding ham also perks the flavor, but don’t replace the sausage, just add some ham.
This you will add to the red beans. Preparing them is your choice – you can soak them beginning the night before, or you can start them about three hours before serving. If you do that, bring the beans to a boil for about two minutes, drain and rinse, then add the seasons, sausage and enough water to cover and simmer for about three hours. Check every once in a while for water level and stir a bit.
Uncle Ben’s rice is a breeze. Just follow the package directions. For us, that’s:
1 cup rice
2 ¼ cup water
2 tablespoons margarine (again, butter’s better, but remember the family chlorestorol)
Combine in a sauce pan, bring to a boil then simmer slowly for twenty minutes. Wait five, then fluff with a fork.
Place rice in a bowl and spoon the red beans over it. If you like yours spicier, then add more of the Creole seasoning. If your beloved’s stomach is a bit stronger, add a few more items to the original pot: those green peppers, chopped rather fine; tomato sauce; a couple of bay leaves. What you add here makes it personal to your tastes. That’s what you’re after, not an exact duplicate of someone else’s favorite. But mine's good, too!