This is a slightly healthier alternative to the butter and sausage heavy Cajun classic. I typically opt for brown instead of white rice, but was out of brown when this was made. I won’t preach that brown rice is “just the same” as white, as it does have more of a nutty flavor and takes longer to cook; it is definitely an acquired taste. However, the spices in this dish are strong enough that you really don’t notice the difference. Try it with the brown for an extra kick of fiber.
This is a fairly versatile recipe, as you can opt for full fat andouille, healthier chicken sausage andouille (the Open Nature brand at Safeway is a good choice, as they don’t put nitrates/nitrites in their meat), or even veggie sausages. Switching to the veggie sausage makes the dish entirely vegan, as there is no dairy in this. This serves 8-10 people.
*1 lb bag of red kidney beans (soaked overnight or quick-soaked–I’ll explain this in a minute).
*2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
*1 lb of andouille sausage (regular, chicken, or vegetarian–your choice), sliced thin
*1/2 cup of diced shallot or yellow onion (3-4 shallots or 1 small onion)
*1 stalk of celery (peeled and diced)
*1 red bell pepper, diced (or green, depending on preference)
*3 cloves of minced garlic (or 5, if you’re me)
*1 1/2 tbsp paprika (preferably the Spanish kind)
*1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
*1 tsp ground celery seed
*1/2 tsp black pepper
*1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (You can omit if you’re scared of a little heat–but why are you eating Cajun food?)
*10 cups of veggie or chicken stock (You can go with water, but you will then need to add a lot more salt later.)
*2 large or 3 small bay leaves
*2 tbsp tomato paste
*1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
*Salt to taste, depending on whether you used water or stock, and whether or not you are concerned with blood pressure.
*4 cups cooked rice (I’m not explaining this one. If you don’t know how to boil rice, there is nothing I can do for you).
*1/2 cup chopped parsley or scallion to top
*Have Tabasco handy if anyone wants to spice theirs up even more.
*I strongly recommend going with dried beans and not canned. Dried beans are much cheaper and not loaded with preservatives and salt. But even more importantly, canned beans will turn to mush before they incorporate any of the flavors from the meat and spices. The prep work for dried beans is simple, so don’t sweat it. Just soak them overnight by putting them in a mixing bowl with just enough water to cover them. Refrigerate overnight, then rinse off the next day when you are ready to cook. Do NOT use the same water to cook them in, though.
*If you forgot to soak them overnight, there is a quick soak method that works too. Put the beans in a stock pot and cover with water at about an inch. Bring to a boil, boil for 2 minutes, then take off heat and cover. Let them sit covered for an hour; they will then be read for this recipe. Again, you will need to drain and rinse them first.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:
*In a large stockpot, heat 1 tbsp of the oil at medium-high heat. Add the sausage and sautee until browned. Remove from the pan with slotted spoon and set aside on a plate covered with foil.
*Add the onion (or shallot), celery, and red pepper. Sautee until softened. About 10 minutes.
*Mix in garlic and sautee another minute.
*Add about 1/2 cup of your stock or water to degrease the pan, scraping up any browned bits.
*Add all of the spices (paprika through cayenne above), and stir around until it is a kind of paste. DO NOT ADD ANY SALT AT THIS POINT: IT WILL SLOW DOWN THE COOKING TIME. You can salt it later. No, really. Put down the shaker. (What are you doing with a salt shaker anyway? So lame. Everyone uses kosher salt now).
*Add the beans and the other tbsp of olive oil, stirring it all until thoroughly mixed.
*Add the rest of the stock and the bay leaves, and stir. Again, don’t add any salt yet.
*Lower heat to medium low and bring to a simmer. No Missy, still no salt.
*Partially cover (scoot the lid over about an inch to let steam escape) and cook for an hour.
*After an hour, uncover. If for some reason the water is all absorbed, just add another cup and bring it back to a simmer.
*Add the sausage back to the pan along with the tomato paste and worcestershire sauce.
*Nope, you still can’t add salt.
*Simmer uncovered for another 15 minutes. Beans should be tender at this point, but test them just in case.
*Now you may salt to taste, and remove the bay leaves.
*Serve over rice topped with chopped parsley or scallions