Friday, February 7, 2014

Easy/Fast: Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice

Disclaimer: The "fast" part is in the preparation - you know, since slow cookers are, by definition, slow.

This recipe is adapted from a stew recipe in the book Slow Cooker Revolution, which, if you want to really learn how to be a slow cooker ninja, I highly recommend.  It is very hearty and freezes great.

Pro Tip about "blooming" aromatics and spices.
You should "bloom" your onion, celery, garlic, and seasonings by microwaving or sauteing with 2Tbsps of oil for about 5 min (stir halfway in the microwave) or until the onion is soft. Blooming makes a big difference to flavor because a.) Your slow cooker doesn't reach the temperatures necessary to cause the chemical reactions that make the beautiful onion-y, herb-y, and spice-y flavor complexities and b.) These flavors are soluble in oil, not water so it is useful to first extract the flavors into an oil (olive oil and butter are my favorites) and then distribute that oil (and thus the flavor) throughout the dish.With out blooming, the great flavors of your herbs and spices remain trapped and cannot reach their full potential. When I am in a hurry, as I was here, I skip the blooming before slow cooking and I always regret it.

Prep Time: Less than 10 minutes
Cook time 5-7 hours on High, 9-11 hours on Low + 30 minutes on High

  • Recommended: 2Tbsp of some oil 
  • 1 Large onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced 
  • Seasoning
    • 2 bay leaves (I use more because mine are pretty old)
    • 1/4 tsp Cayenne pepper
    • 1/2 tsp thyme (you can really up this you like more herb-y-ness)
    • 2 tsp paprika
    • Generous grinding of pepper
  • 1 lb dried red kidney beans
  • 14oz (or 1 package) of your preferred sausage (I use a smoked sausage, but andouille would be great), cut to your preferred size (I prefer to quarter the link then slice in 1/2 chunks so I get a piece of sausage in almost every bite)
  • Liquid
    • 4 c chicken stock (I actually use a sodium free bullion and water and it turns out pretty well)
    • 3 c water
  • 1 1/2 c rice
(After blooming) Add everything but the rice to your slow cooker and cook for 5-7 hours on High or 9-11 hours on Low.  Add your rice and cook on high for 1/2 hour.  You may wish to add more seasonings (I like hot sauce on mine).  Enjoy!


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