Creole Style Red Beans and Rice

It’s Monday… you know what that means.

Creole Style Red Beans and Rice

1 lb. red kidney beans (the best brand IMHO is Camellia, but you can use whatever local brand you can get. Mexican or Latin groceries might be a good place to look as well.)
1 quart water
1 quart vegetable stock/broth
3 tablespoons olive oil (2 tablespoons if using meat)
1 large yellow onion
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 stalks celery, diced (I don’t like celery in mine, it imparts a “too sweet” flavor that I don’t like much… you may opt out of using celery)
3 bay leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme (1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme)
2 toes garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
Kosher salt to taste
1 tablespoon creole seasoning
1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
Hot sauce (Crystal is best) to taste
Optional: 1 teaspoon liquid smoke (leave out if using meat)

Soak beans overnight in a large pot and use enough water to ensure the beans remain covered in water, otherwise they will harden and never “cream up”. Rinse beans and pick through them for rocks and dirt. Put beans back into pot along with liquids. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Continue to simmer for one hour. While the beans are simmering, sauté onion, bell pepper and celery in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil until onion is translucent. Add garlic and sauté for another minute. After the beans have simmered for one hour, add sautéed vegetables, bay leaves, remaining olive oil and seasonings. Bring back up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 2 more hours or until beans have become tender and made their own thick sauce. Stir occasionally to prevent bottom from scorching. Adjust seasoning as you go. You may want to smash about a cup of the beans along the side of the pot and stir that in to make a thicker sauce, the consistency should be close to refried beans at the end but that (along with this recipe) is a matter of taste.

Serve over hot white rice, use at least one cup cooked rice per serving.

Variation: Traditional red beans and rice recipes call for meat, typically ham or pickled meat. Add 1 lb. of meat of choice along with vegetables and reduce amount of olive oil to 2 tablespoons. Meats that work well are: chopped smoked ham, a ham bone, chopped pickled meat, sliced andouille sausage, smoked sausage or Louisiana hot links. In the past, I have found that Turkey meat replacements (i.e. turkey ham, turkey sausage) do not give off enough oil, you will want to add your extra olive oil to compensate.

Another variation: add 1 can of tomato paste. Add this when you are sautéing the onion and caramelize the paste until it is a mahogany color. This is my favorite version… the acid of the tomato brightens the beans nicely. You may also want to try 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar instead.

Serves 6

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Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

Good on a cold night as a side or as a main course. Many people think they hate okra, mainly because it’s gummy or slimy, but in this dish (and gumbo) it uses that “slime” to help thicken the dish. Good with french bread.

Stewed Tomatoes and Okra

1/2 stick butter (substitute 1/8 cup olive oil for vegan)
1 large yellow onion
1 package frozen okra
2 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 toes garlic, diced
1/4 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons creole seasoning

Melt butter in a large saucepan and add chopped onion and okra. Saute until onion is translucent and slime has mostly cooked out of the okra. Add all remaining ingredients. Season and then simmer slowly for 30 minutes or until it has acheived a stew consistency. Serves 6.

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Another flexible dish, like gumbos, with infinite combinations. There are two types of jambalaya that I am aware of; creole and cajun. Creole jambalayas use tomatoes and lean on the red side as a result, cajun jambalayas lean on the brown side and (as far as I know) don’t use tomato. The following recipe will be for a creole jambalaya.

I make jambalaya in a strange way… according to tradition. Rather than cooking the rice WITH the sauce, I cook them separately so that the rice comes out correctly each time. I found that when I did it the traditional way (cooking the rice in the sauce for an hour or so), the rice either came out underdone or mushy. If you choose to make it the traditional way, double the chicken/beef stock to 1 1/2 quarts.



1 lb. smoked sausage or andouille, sliced and browned
1 lb. chicken thighs, cut from bone, diced and browned
1/2 cup + 2 Tbps. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 toes garlic, diced
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 quart chicken or beef stock
1 small can of tomato paste

1 tablespoon creole seasoning (use more if you like)
1 tablespoon worchestershire sauce

6 cups rice, cooked

Brown the sausage and chicken in half the olive oil in a large saucepan or iron pot. When meat is nice and brown and you get the “gratin” on the bottom, saute the trinity. Add diced tomato (juice and all), garlic, bay leaves, thyme and heated stock. Add creole seasoning and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes at least, preferably longer like an hour or two. While sauce is simmering, in a separate small pot take 2 Tbps. olive oil and heat over medium heat. Empty can of tomato paste into hot oil and stir, stir, stir. This is called pincé-ing. Stir until paste is the color of mahogany (deep reddish-brown). Add paste to sauce. This will serve two purposes: one, it will thicken the sauce slightly and two, it will add that extra bite. When sauce is done, add cooked rice and mix thoroughly. Serves 6.

Variation: you may use pasta instead of rice. Add 1 lb. cooked pasta. Bake in a preheated 350 degree; oven for about 30 minutes in a casserole dish.

Red Gravy

This sauce is more than just “spaghetti sauce”. Its flexibility allows us to use it on top of meatloaves, pannéed meats, po-boy, fish, sausage and, yes, even pasta. In fact, I make this for pasta sauce instead of plain marinara, I find its richness to be beyond compare.

Red Gravy

1/2 cup olive oil
1 whole bulb of garlic, with each toe sliced in half lengthwise
3 bay leaves
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups vegetable stock
3 cups canned tomato purée
6 ounces tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons creole seasoning
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh basil (Italian or sweet)
1-2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

In a 2-quart saucepan or stockpot, heat the olive oil, sliced garlic cloves, and 2 of the bay leaves. Cook garlic slices to achieve browning on both sides (over medium heat), cooking for about 2 to 3 minutes and stirring often. Remove garlic from pan, you can toss this. Turn down heat to medium-low and add the onions to the pan and sautee until edges start to brown, about 6 to 8 minutes and stirring constantly.

Add the tomato paste and cook with the onions until the color deepens to a red mahogany color; it gets somewhat sticky, it will build up your forearm muscles. This step is important, so be patient! You want to carmelize the entire mixture; this is where almost all of the flavor for the sauce will come from. When done, add the third bay leaf and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer; here is where you will adjust your seasonings… I like mine on the spicier side so I actually add 2 tablespoons of creole seasoning rather than 2 teaspoons. Maintain a very low simmer and cook for about three hours and stirring frequently. The whole house will smell delicious for days after making this. Makes 6 cups and freezes well.

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Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Pumpkin Black Bean Chili

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Moderate
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped (can substitute chipotle pepper for smokiness)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
3 cups vegetable broth
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained, rinsed
1 package (12 ounces) frozen Recipe Crumbles (TVP)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup red wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
shredded Cheddar cheese or Soy Cheese (optional)
sour cream (optional)

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, jalapeno pepper and garlic; cook 8 minutes, or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add chili powder, cumin and oregano; stir. Cook and stir 1 minute. Add broth, beans, TVP, pumpkin, tomatoes with their liquid, vinegar, wine/sherry, salt and black pepper; mix well. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve chili topped with cheese or sour cream, if desired.

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Red Beans and Rice (not New Orleans-Style)

I make this in a slow cooker and let it stew for about 6 hours because the flavors marry better that way. If you don’t have time, this can be done within 30 minutes, but it won’t be quite as savory. I usually double the recipe as well… it freezes well. Caveat, these are NOT the red beans I grew up with in New Orleans, these have a far more caribbean feel to them… you can find a very good recipe for creole Red Beans and Rice here.
I don’t care what the previous generations have said about rinsing canned beans… do it. You’ll be much happier, believe me. You won’t miss any flavor. If you want the beans to be creamy at the end of cooking, you can take some out and mash them with a fork and then stir them back in.

Red Beans and Rice (not New Orleans-Style)

Recipe Summary
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes (or 6 hours for slow cooker)
Yield: 4 servings

1 can (15.5 oz.) Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup water
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 bell pepper diced
1 onion diced
1 small can tomato sauce (4 oz.)
1 packet Sazon Goya without Annatto (if unavailable substitute 1/8 tsp. garlic power, 1/8 tsp. cumin, 1/8 tsp. coriander and 1/8 tsp. salt)
1/8 tsp. oregano
Goya Adobo with Pepper to taste (if unavailable substitute a combination of dried oregano, black pepper, salt, turmeric and garlic power in fairly equal proportions; use to taste)

2 cups cooked long grain rice

Heat olive oil in a skillet and saute both the onion and bell pepper until the onion is carmelized.

Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and set to the 6-hour (or equivalent) setting, or alternatively, combine all ingredients except rice in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat then simmer for 10 minutes or until it reaches desired consistency.

Serve over the cooked rice.