Friday, September 9, 2011

Saints Kick Off Special: Red Beans & Rice with Sweet Cornbread

There are two things that New Orleans prides itself in the most: its food and its Saints (ok and its ability to party, but that should come with some shame too). As a lifelong Saints fan, I've suffered through a lot of bad teams, but it's been incredible seeing them actually win these past few years. Watching them, however, probably removes a year from my life each game. I nervously pace and eat constantly and will only drink Louisiana beer (Abita to be specific). Back in college, I used to go all out and spend ridiculous sums of money at Buffalo Wild Wings each time they were on TV. Now that I know how to cook, I try to appease the football gods by making a bounty of New Orleans food. For this year's season opener, I went with the always delightful red beans and rice with some sweet cornbread.

Trust me. You don't want to pass on this dish (Oh yeah, I went to bad pun land).
Red Beans & Rice
Adapted from Camellia's Recipe
Servings: 6-8
Time: 4 hours

Don't forget to soak the beans.
1 lb red kidney beans
6 cups of water
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
12 oz andouille sausage, sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Medium or long grain rice

Progression of the beans. You want to make sure the beans cream so you don't end up with soup.
  1. Rinse and soak the beans overnight in an excess of water. Leave plenty of room because they will swell to about double in size.
  2. Drain the water and add the beans to a large pot with 6 cups of water. Warm it at low heat.
  3. Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic and sausage in 1 tbsp of olive oil until the onion becomes translucent. Add the mixture to the beans along with a bay leaf. Be sure to stir occasionally.
  4. Let the beans cook covered on low heat for at least 2 hours. If they beans aren't creaming, add a little olive oil and raise the temperature to bring the mixture to a soft simmer uncovered. Stir frequently to prevent it from burning.
  5. Once the beans have creamed and any excess water has been evaporated, season with salt, pepper and lots of tabasco.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and serve over rice.

Red beans and rice is an amazing dish that's almost impossible to screw up and ridiculously cheap (seriously you can make both of these large recipes for a combined $10-$15). As soon as I started cooking the veggies and sausage, the apartment smelled just like back home and all the effort was immediately worth it. I may have even performed a small dance in the kitchen once the beans creamed and I tasted them. The andouille sausage and tabasco really bring it home to make a dish I'd proudly serve to any member of the Who Dat Nation (seriously, Drew Brees, call me and I'll make you some).

Sweet Cornbread
Servings: 12
Mmm batter...
Time: 35 minutes

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 400.
  2. Mix together the ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a lightly greased baking pan.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the toothpick test comes back clean.
A nice golden brown

This was my first time actually making cornbread, and I'm glad I decided to do it. It took only the slightest bit more effort than making it from a box, and the results weren't even close. This cornbread had the perfect consistency, and the sweetness really made it an welcome addition to the meal. I highly recommend crumbling it up and mixing it with your beans.

The incredible sweet cornbread went quickly.
As usual, the game was a nail-biter. I probably clocked at least 2 miles worth of pacing (as the path I formed on my friend Jim's carpet can attest to) and ate at least four bowls of red beans and rice (One for each quarter. We're superstitious in New Orleans). Hopefully, those two activities cancelled each other out, but I'm guessing by how disgustingly full I feel that they didn't. Oh well, next time I think I'll try to bake some Black and Gold cupcakes.

The man is friends with the Carlton Banks! What more do you need to convince you to be a Saints fan?
Special note for vegetarians: If you make this with veggie sausage, you'll find that the beans have trouble creaming. My guess is that the fat in the real sausage is essential to helping this process along. To remedy this, you should add a few tablespoons of olive oil.

The single greatest play in Saints history. I've only watched this 5,000 times.


  1. i just have one litmus test - as good as popeyes?

  2. Better than Popeye's. The andouille sausage puts it over the top.