Are you ready?
The secret is canned beans. Gasp! The horror! I recently told this secret to a friend from Lafayette, Louisiana (who has not sampled my fabulous beans), and she delicately wrinkled her nose and eloquently said, "Yuck."
I know it's unorthodox (and heresy according to some) to use canned beans, but folks, they are delicious, easy, and cheap. I got my recipe from Que Sera Sera, a restaurant here in Jacktown where I once waited tables many moons ago. (Why a Cajun restaurant has a Spanish name, I'll never know. Maybe the owner, Boo Noble, has a thing for Doris Day.) And Que Sera used canned beans. I've taken some liberties with the recipe, but it hasn't protested.
Red Beans and Rice
(serves 3 or so)
1 can of Blue Runner creole style red beans*
1 link andouille sausage (or other spicy smoked sausage), diced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped (optional)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water
Louisiana hot sauce
*(This is SO IMPORTANT. You cannot use plain old kidney beans, or else it will be gross. You can only use Blue Runner. If you can't get Blue Runner, I'm sorry, you cannot make this recipe.)
In a deep saucepan, saute the sausage on medium-high heat until browned. Add all of the vegetables. Salt the vegetables. Add a little oil to the pan if you need it to keep the veggies from sticking. Saute the vegetables until softened but not browned. If you like your beans very spicy, you can add cayenne pepper at this step. Add the beans out of the can. Add the water (you can add more or less depending on your desired consistency). Add the bay leaf, the butter, and hot sauce to taste. Stir. Now cover it, turn the heat to low, and let all the flavors combine and mingle while you make your rice. Once the rice is done, the beans are, too. Serve over the rice.
At Que Sera, you have the option of topping your beans with cheese. This is more heresy, but man, few things on this earth are not improved by the addition of a healthy grating of pepper jack or cheddar cheese. So we serve ours topped with cheese, too.
I hope you can lay your prejudices against canned beans aside and make these beans. I have a lot of affection for this recipe because it was one of the first things I ever cooked for Drew, when we first started dating and neither of us (1) had any money and (2) knew how to cook at all. It still turned out great. Who knows? Maybe the beans convinced Drew to take a chance on me. I hope if you make them that you turn out as lucky.