07 March 2012

sunday slow cooker: red beans and rice

in honor of mardi gras this year i made red beans and rice from scratch.  i am grateful to say that 6 years of my life took place in new orleans, la.  well, actually it was 5 years and 1 month + 11 months while we were displaced because of hurricane katrina, but we won't talk about that.  and during those 11 months in utah my heart was still in new orleans.  in case you're not familiar with new orleans, their claim to fame is FOOD.  and no ordinary food will do, no no no.  it must be GREAT FOOD.  and believe me, we had GREAT FOOD while we lived there.  and lots of it.  

one of our favorite dishes was red beans and rice.  now that we don't live in new orleans, it's not as convenient to just run to the store and buy a can of already prepared Blue Runner beans.  so, i decided to come up with a recipe all on my own that used the slow cooker (it was sunday dinner and now with 1 o'clock church i'm using my slow cooker every sunday...many more sunday slow cooker recipes to follow!)  i also wanted to make a lot so that i could freeze part of it (just had baby #3 and i'm trying to simplify dinnertime!) i was very proud of the results and so was my husband (a big red beans and rice fan!) now i'll need to perfect my jambalaya, gumbo and shrimp etouffee and maybe i'll be ready for a big mardi gras feast next year!

slow cooked red beans and rice for a mardi gras crowd (i.e. slow cooked red beans and rice for a LARGE crowd, so it must be made in a LARGE crockpot!)

2 lbs. dried red beans, rinsed and sorted (use small kidney beans)
3 Tbsp. bacon drippings (my alternative to buying a ham hock)
2 large onions, chopped
2 cups celery, chopped (about 5 celery ribs)
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. thyme
1 lb andouille sausage, sliced
2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken stock
12 cups cooked long grain rice

night before:
1.  rinse and sort beans making sure to remove any odd beans.  put in LARGE pot and cover with about 12 cups of water.  (beans triple in size while soaking, so make sure there is enough water.) allow beans to soak overnight. 
2.  cook bacon (i prefer to bake it on a cookie sheet) and reserve bacon drippings in glass jar.
3.  heat bacon drippings in large skillet until loose and add onion, celery and pepper.  cook until soft and slightly golden.  add garlic, salt, black pepper, cayenne, parsley and thyme and cook another 2 minutes.  allow to cool slightly and remove to a tupperware.  store in fridge overnight.
4.  cut andouille sausage into slices and brown in skillet.  remove to tupperware and store in fridge overnight.

next morning:
1.  1 hour before starting: discard water that the beans have been soaking in and refill pot with enough water to cover beans, plus another inch or so.  bring beans up to a slow boil and cook for about 1 hour.
2.  turn on crockpot. 
3.  when beans are done, pour them into crockpot (WITHOUT LIQUID!) along with the onion/celery/green pepper mixture.  add 1/3-1/2 of the sausage to the crockpot, keep the rest to add at the end (after pureeing, so it doesn't get all pureed.)  mix it all together.
4.  add bay leaves and enough chicken stock so the mixture is loose (probably no more than a quart) and cook on low for 8 hours.  if you need more liquid, add some of the bean stock.

after 8 hours:
1.  remove bay leaves!
2.  check the amount of liquid and if it looks like there's too much, pour it off.  you can always add it back in, but to avoid getting them too runny, i like to pour it off before i puree it.  puree beans with immersion blender or use a potato masher until creamy and tender. 
3.  add reserved sausage.
4.  serve over rice and enjoy!

as you may see, this can be kind of inexact.  feel free to change it up how you and your family prefer.  it's a lot easier to make than it sounds!  add a drop of Tabasco for an extra kick!  it made so much, i froze half of it for a future lazy monday (laundry day in louisiana.)


  1. Amanda, thanks for posting this! Ever since you mentioned it on facebook I've been thinking, "I wish I knew how to make good New Orleans food."
    I'd ask you about Gumbo, but I'm sure there isn't any good seafood in Kansas City to make it with.

  2. holly, hope you enjoy the red beans and rice as much as we did! let me know if you make them and what worked/didn't work and any changes that you made. thanks for reading! i really enjoy reading your blogs, too! hope all is well with you!

  3. It is possible to halve the recipe? I have a feeling the kids might not try it and then it would be me & the hubs and a lot of food!

  4. holly, i'm sure you could. i've never done a smaller batch, though. i'd just watch it and maybe not cook it as long.