Merf's Cajun Red Beans and Rice
My "Secret" Recipe, Revealed
If you appreciate some good 'ol Cajun comfort food, then you appreciate some yummy Cajun-style red beans and rice straight from the pot. Luckily, I did not have to go through a lengthy trial and error phase in order to perfect my recipe. All I had to do was pay close attention to my friend's mom when she would visit us when we were students at LSU. Well, that and make some tweaks here and there throughout the years in order to make it my own. My red beans and rice never fails to receive rave reviews from friends and family. I often make big pots of it when we have people over for Saints or LSU games.
Now, I've gone through some painstaking efforts in order to present you with this recipe. Let me explain. I'm not a recipe follower and I never measure ingredients. No, my motto goes something like "just throw everything in there and taste-test as you go". Hey, it works for me! (Seriously, it really does work for me) So when I made this batch of Merf's Red Beans and Rice I actually had to remember to measure as I went and all of that mess. I also had to remember that not everyone in the world likes things as spicy as we do in this house, so I was extra careful with the spiciness. However, if you want true cajun red beans and rice, throw in lots of spice! Anyway, enjoy my recipe, and please let me know how it turns out!
Photo Credit: Meridith Zelaya
Gather Your Ingredients
The picture above does a good job of showing the ingredients you will need, although when I took the picture I accidentally left out minced garlic. Also, I don't usually use a red onion as is shown in the picture. It just so happened that I didn't have a yellow onion, but it really doesn't matter what type of onion you use. In fact, I often use those packs of frozen chopped onions because it is easier than chopping one up. Here is a list of ingredients for Merf's Cajun Red Beans and Rice:
2 16oz packages dry red kidney beans
2 cans diced tomatoes undrained
2 packages polska kielbasa, sliced into thin pieces
4 bay leaves
1 large onion, chopped
1 tbs minced garlic
3 tsp Tony's
1 tsp red pepper flakes
white rice (cooked separately) (I cook up 3 cups dry white rice)
No, you cannot make Merf's Cajun Red Beans and Rice without Tony's.
I am NEVER Without Tony's... - Ever!
I'm serious. If we run out of Tony's, I immediately hop in the car to go stock back up. We quite literally use it in and on everything. It is particularly amazing in spaghetti sauce and on french fries. It is sort of like "season salt", but a spicier version. Yum!
Throw It In a Big Pot!
Now you are ready to start cookin! Pour the dry beans into a large pot like the one on the right. Next, add water until the water level is roughly three inches above the level of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil over high heat and then immediately turn the heat down to low. You want the beans to simmer gently. Keep in mind that the beans will simmer for about 3 to about 3 1/2 hours and that you will need to stir periodically and add more water when necessary. The beans will soak up a lot of water and expand a lot. If you fail to add water when needed, they will burn. When you add water, though, add small amounts at a time because you also do not want the beans to come out too runny.
When the beans begin to simmer, add all of the other ingredients except for the rice. As mentioned, simmer the beans for about three hours or until they are very soft. I do not simmer them with a lid on. I tried that once and they came out with the wrong consistency. Stir them periodically and, when they become soft, sort of mash them a bit as you stir them. Good Cajun beans are very mushy, soft and full of flavor. Add more Tony's and/or red pepper flakes as you go if you like. Do NOT add salt, though, because Tony's contains plenty of it. When the beans are ready, simply serve them over plain white rice.