Beans and rice is a classic combination with different versions showing up in various cuisines from around the world. One of my favourite versions at the moment is this Cajun style red beans and rice dish which is pure comfort food and it has been a perfect fit over the last few weeks with the continuing cold weather. Though you could easily keep this dish vegetarian, I could not resist adding some andouille sausage to make it even heartier and add some more flavour. Speaking of flavour, another great way to build some up is to add a ham hock to the pot while everything simmers. A ham hock is generally smoked and cured and it will add a ton of flavour to any dish that it is cooked in. The ham hock does contain meat and after all of the simmering is done you can pull it from the bone and add it to the dish that you cooked it in if you wish.
With all of the main ingredients in place that leaves the basics which include onions, celery, green pepper, garlic and chicken stock . From there, the Cajun flavours are built up with some ingredients commonly found in Cajun spice blends including paprika, oregano, thyme and some cayenne pepper for a bit of heat. The key to this dish is of course the long simmer and if you have the time, let it simmer for a while. Once the beans are cooked you simply serve them over the rice. You could also keep things simple and mix the rice right into the beans or you could get a bit fancier and form the rice in a small greased bowl like I did in the photo.
Cajun Red Beans and Rice
Red beans slowly simmered with a smoky ham hock until they absorb all of its flavour before being served over rice in one flavour packed meal.
- 2 tablespoons oil
- 1/2 pound andouille sausage (cut into small pieces)
- 1 cup onion (diced)
- 1/2 cup celery (diced)
- 1/2 cup green pepper (diced)
- 4 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 4 cups ham broth or chicken broth or chicken stock
- 1 (28 ounce) cans red beans (rinsed and drained) (or 3 cups cooked beans, from 1/ cup dry)
- 1 ham hock
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups cooked rice (I like to go with a brown rice)
- Heat the oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat add the sausage and saute until lightly golden brown, about 5-7 minutes, and set aside.
- Add the onions, celery and green pepper to the pan and cook until tender, about 7-10 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the stock, beans, ham hock, sausage, paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer covered for at least 1 hour continuing for another hour or two if you have the time to bring out more flavour from the ham hock.
- Remove the ham hock, pull the meat from it, cut it into bite sized pieces and add it back to the pot if desired.
- Mash or puree about a quarter of the beans.
- Serve over rice.
Option: For One-Pan: Make this a one-pan meal by adding 1 cup of rice and 2 cups broth or water (or 8 ounces of pasta and 2 1/4 cups broth or water) to the sauce after step 5 and simmer, covered, until cooked, about 20 minutes (or 12 minutes for pasta).
Slow Cooker: Implement step 1, optionally implement steps 2 & 3, place everything except the rice in the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-10 hours or high for 2-4 hours.