If you want to impress your man, learn his favorite meal and slay it. Red beans is one of my king’s favorite meals.
It’s Monday. Everybody’s least favorite day of the week…unless you’re from New Orleans.
Monday in New Orleans means red beans, crispy, golden fried chicken and hot water cornbread. At least it did when I was growing up; and since I love to preserve tradition (at least sometimes), last night was red bean night in our house.
It’s been a while since I cooked a pot of my signature, creamy beans. I could tell it’d been too long because when I told Hubz he looked like I told him we’d hit the lottery.
Beans are a staple food in our house, and most homes around the world really. We eat them at least twice a month. More often when funds are looking funny. They’re cheap, easy (enough) and nutritious enough to be worth the extra time they take to cook from scratch.
When I first started cooking I was intimidated by dry beans. I mean, seriously, how long does it take to cook something hard as a rock to even almost edible softness?
Since I’m pretty much anti-can goods, I had to call grandma when Hubz asked me to cook our first pot of beans as a married couple.
I was surprised to learn how easy it really is to cook an amazing pot of red kidneys. Of course it couldn’t be as easy as the instructions on the packaging made it seem…but it is.
Beans are so easy that you can actually put them in the crockpot and forget them. I have a habit of soaking my beans overnight (or at least using the 1 hour boil + soak method on the pack) because that’s the way I always saw my elders do it… but you may be able to get away with not soaking if you’re putting them in a crockpot.
[Now disclaimer : Don’t say Yahya told me to do it if you try that and it doesn’t come out because I’m 100% in support of the soak game. And since this is me giving you MY method, disregard that last part and just soak…kay? Kay!]
You’ll want to make sure you have a few hours to prepare dinner before you set out to cook beans. Don’t worry though, you don’t have to stand at the stove all that time. Other than the occasional stir and topping up the water, red beans will cook themselves.
But if you have the time and the taste for home cooked beans – or you just want to butter him up before you ask for that [insert wife needs here], this recipe will satisfy and then some!
Cook the Perfect Pot of Pork-Free Red Beans
Step 1: Rinse and soak your beans
Pay close attention when rinsing dry beans because sometimes there are small rocks and such. They did come from a farm, you know, so just be on the lookout for unusual pieces in there.
You can soak your beans over night if you’ve planned ahead of time but if the craving comes on you suddenly, add your beans to a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. Turn off and cover the pot for 1 hour and proceed to step 2.
Step 2: Season and De-Gas
We’ve all heard (or smelled) about the aftermath of eating a good bowl of beans. My mother-in-law is one of the real gems in my marriage – mostly. She showed me how to get rid of the gassiness in beans. So, before you drain the water off, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the pot and skim off the foam. You can do that step at any part of the cooking process but I do it in the beginning so I don’t forget.
Next, I season my beans. The “holy trinity” in New Orleans cooking is onion, celery, and garlic. I add bell pepper to that – all diced. Essential flavors in authentic red beans are – whole bay leaf, garlic and onion powders, salt and black & cayenne pepper. Some people add a tablespoon of sugar. I don’t. I like savory beans.
Once you’ve added your seasonings, cover the beans again with water and bring to a boil.Reduce heat to medium, stir and cover.
Here’s my go-to seasoning blend if you don’t know what you like yet.
Creole Seasoning Blend
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp onion powder
3 tsp sea salt
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like spicy)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
Step 3: Reduce 3 times
This is the step that runs most people away from beans but it’s really not that bad. Once you have your beans slow rolling (a low boil), check them about every 20 minutes and re-up the water when needed.
For creamy beans, you’ll want to add 4 Tbsp unsalted butter on your second fill up. I wait til round 3 to add beef or turkey smoked sausage. I find that if you add the meat too early you’ll cook the flavor out.
Your cook time will be about 2 hours total.
You’ll know they’re done when they’re soft and creamy with very few whole beans.
Serve over hot rice.