Last weekend we were spoiled–weather in the 80s, beautiful sunshine, light breeze. This weekend: crap. It has been raining and wet and cold and gray here since Thursday afternoon, and the only help for it is Comfort Food. The Beloved and I conferred a couple of days ago and decided on red beans and rice. But since we generally make a whole vat of food and eat it for a few days, I suggested that we add some dark meat chicken to the mix to up the protein a bit. And Red Beans and Rice with Chicken was born.
When I’m not feeling lazy, I would start a Louisiana-inspired dish by sweating down some trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper), browning my andouille, layering flavors like a Good Chef. Friends, I was not feeling it the other day. I just wanted to get everything in the pot. I figured a long cooking time and a chill overnight in the fridge would have to do. And I was right. This dish was warm, spicy, stick-to-your-ribs and comforting. I served it over brown basmati rice (since that’s what we had on hand) and grated some pepper jack cheese over the top just because I could. We still have a ton of this left, and while I start getting bored with leftovers (I still think the heel of the grocery store loaf of bread is poison), I won’t get bored with this. It really is that good. I won’t lose any sleep knowing it could have been even better had I Followed the Rules of Browning, Deglazing and whatnot, but next time, I’ll probably go the whole nine and do all those additional steps. And just because I didn’t this time doesn’t mean that you can’t sweat and brown and deglaze and feel superior to Lazy Me!
Red Beans and Rice with Chicken
These measurements are guesses at best–use what you have in the proportions you want
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, chopped
- 3 ribs celery, chopped
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flake
- 4 bell peppers, seeded and chopped
- 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- chipotle and cayenne hot sauce–lots
- 1 pound bag of dark red beans
- 1 pound andouille sausage (I used TJ’s chicken and turkey andouille–it’s what they had)
- water/chicken stock/beer (any combination) to cover the beans by about 1 1/2″
- 3 dark meat quarters (legs and thighs)
I literally put everything but the adouille and chicken in the pot, brought it up to a boil and reduced to a simmer. I picked over and washed the beans, but I didn’t soak them. I just tossed them in all dry and sad.
After about an hour or so, I pulled the skin off of the chicken pieces and tucked them into the mix, letting them braise on the stovetop for about an hour. Then, I pulled the meat out, let it cool, shredded it off the bone and threw it back in the pot.
I cut up the andouille and threw that in, too. Everything cooked together for another hour or so. I tasted and corrected seasonings along the way. I also skimmed off as much fat as I could.
Once the beans were soft and I was happy with the flavor, I mashed about 1/3 of the beans against the side of the pot to help thicken things up. Then, I cooled it and refrigerated the whole deal overnight.
As it turned out, it sat in the fridge for 2 nights. Then, I reheated it and served it over the rice–oh, I cooked the rice with water to cover by 3/4-1″, salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning, red pepper flake and olive oil.
And that’s it.
Other Things to Consider
Yes, you can throw in a fresh hot pepper or three.
I used about 2 cups of leftover chicken stock and water for my cooking liquid. If I had had a light-ish beer, I would have used that, too. All I had was a Mike’s Hard Cranberry Lemonade. A little voice inside said, “Just say no.”
As long as you don’t want to eat in an hour, it’s perfectly fine to throw dry beans into the mix. I did add water once or twice as they soaked some up, but it worked out just fine. I’ve often heard not to salt until the end of the cooking, because salting makes the beans tough. No problem with that–with enough time in the pot plus the nice rest in the fridge, the beans were plenty tender.
Had I been in full-on chef mode instead of Lazy Me mode, I would have browned the andouille first, added some oil and browned the chicken, added some more oil (if necessary) and sweated down The Trinity, deglazed with my stock/beer/whatever and then gone from there.
And that’s about it. I hope you try either the lazy version or the chef’s version. Both are really good, so take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I feeling Chefly?” If yes, go for the gusto; if no, just throw everything together. Either way, I promise you won’t be disappointed.