Make red beans and rice. ~ Ham Pie Sandwiches

14 March 2007

Make red beans and rice.

Points in favor of such a thing:

* vegan food for masses
* cheap, plentiful, easy
* only requires small amounts of forward planning
* delicious

I actually spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to make a decent pot of red beans and rice. This experiment mostly took place in college. Then, it always failed. However, now I seem to have acquired a wider range of cooking skills. The secret here seems to have been using actual hot peppers of some type. I've used pretty much every kind we've ever had lying around, and as we live in California, that's a lot. Serranos, anaheims, red or green jalapeños: pretty much anything besides a habañero has at one point or other ended up in my pot.

Such an explanation might send a sensitive palate running for the hills. Well. I can't say my palate is particularly sensible to spice at this point, but I can say that this is significantly milder than one would imagine, and that you can further control the spice by changing the type and amount of hot pepper. If you use anaheim, for example, you get the rich vegetal pepper flavor, but practically no spice, at least to my tongue. If you use red jalapeño, my favorite, you get a reasonable spicy kick mellowed by the long simmer. If you use habañero--those of you who would choose to cook with habañero have a better idea what you're getting into than I do. Proceed.

Red beans and rice

a pot (or I guess a can) red beans
rice and appropriate cooking water
olive oil
half onion
6 cloves garlic
couple carrots
couple stalks celery
a hot pepper of some type
a green pepper
veg broth
dry vermouth
cayenne, thyme, oregano, adobo, paprika
bay leaves
salt, pepper

Soak the beans overnight, then boil for an hour or until tender. I like to stick a bay leaf in to boil with the beans. Take it out when they're done.

Put on a pot of rice. Let it cook during the whole bean and vegetable procedure.

Chop up the onion and mince the garlic finely. Sauté to soften in a glug of olive oil. Add spices, chopped celery and carrot, minced hot pepper, and chopped green pepper. Red or yellow pepper are also fine. Spicing is not so complicated. I tend to use Some of everything, and then More paprika. Of course, I have also made this with No paprika. You can get good results either way.

When all the vegetables have softened up a bit, add a bay leaf, two or three cups of vegetable broth, and your pot of beans. You should use enough broth to cover everything, so the beans and veggies can stew in it. If you don't have veg broth, you can use water, but it's better with broth. Plus, broth is easy, and can be done simultaneously: just throw all your onion and garlic trimmings in a pot of water with a few bits of carrot and celery, plus any other vegetables you have lying around, then simmer while you're letting the main vegetables soften.

Bring things to a simmer and cook for maybe 15 minutes or so. Then add a shot or two of dry vermouth. Stir it up and simmer some more, until the alcohol has cooked off. Salt and pepper to taste: a little salt, lots of pepper. Find and eliminate bay leaf. Is everything hot? Then you're ready.

Serve beans over rice, with maybe a little butter or oil on the rice first. It is tasty. Eat lots. Save the rest and bring it to work for lunch on Monday. Good job.

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