If the Japanese have their Karē or Japanese rice curry, Filipinos and their Adobo, or the Koreans with their Kimchi, people from Louisiana have the iconic Red Beans and Rice dish. Traditionally regarded as a Monday comfort food, it’s not an overstatement to say that every Louisianan household has graced their palates with this hearty dish.
If you’re thinking of making this dish yourself, here are four ways to make the best red beans and rice dish.
Disclaimer: this is not a recipe to make the rice dish. However, the best tips and practices will be discussed to help you cook your first-ever red beans and rice. For ratio and actual measurements, check out this recipe at minuterice.com/recipes/red-beans-and-rice/.
1. The Holy Trinity
When you search the internet for red beans and rice dish recipe, you’d be surprised with how many variations there are. Some like the authenticity of using Louisianan ingredients, while others are okay with a customized red bean and rice whose components can easily be found in one’s pantry.
Regardless, with all Cajun and Louisiana Creole dishes, you should not forget including the holy trinity namely, onions, bell peppers, and celery. These three are the flavor base of every Cajun and Creole dish, and missing even just one of them can easily hamper you from achieving that authentic Louisianan taste. That’s why these three must always be at the top of your grocery shopping list for any of your Cajun-inspired cooking.
2. The Beans
Traditionally, New Orleans beans are used for this dish, but some are apprehensive about the chewy skins of this brand. That’s why most people nowadays use Mexican red kidney beans. Either way, red kidney beans are generally used.
Your red beans must first be brined for six to eight hours to prevent them from having ruptured shells when cooking. Brining also helps make the beans creamy and more flavorful. Beans that look like they just lost war aren’t only unappealing, but flavor-wise, they become so incorporated with the stew, thereby losing that iconic bean integrity that this dish has.
Anyone who has tasted the red beans and rice dish cooked by a Louisianan grandma at least once will know exactly how much of a dealbreaker the condition and texture of the beans are after cooking. Remember that this dish is originally intended to simmer for a long time, but Louisianan moms have mastered the art of bringing the beans in one piece despite the vigorous boiling.
3. The Meat
If there’s anything that makes this dish special aside from the beans, it’s the meat. There goes a lot into this red beans and rice dish when it comes to choosing the proteins to include. Strictly speaking, however, you must not forget andouille or pork sausage.
Andouille provides the smokiness and spice that is considered as one of the highlights of this rice dish. There’s also tasso ham, which is also another traditional component, but this cured pork shoulder is hard to come by. You can substitute red wine vinegar to have that acidity from the tasso, but having the real one is still the best option.
Bacon is also used, but only for providing fat where the holy trinity can thrive. That said, the smokiness and saltiness from bacon can still give an extra layer of flavor to the dish. That’s why choosing a fattier and more flavorful brand of bacon is recommended.
4. The Rice
When it comes to rice, people usually think of Asians. Well, true enough, since rice is a staple food for most Asian countries, so much that there is a lot of rice-based desserts.
And Asians may be rolling over their graves when they saw how Louisianans traditionally cook their rice (using colander), but irrespective of this purist treatment over this grain, having to choose a good rice is one of the pillars of cooking this dish right.
It’s preferred to use aromatic and long-grained white rice such as Jasmine. Some people use Basmati, but regardless, short-grained rice offers an underwhelming experience in terms of fluffiness that pairs pretty well with the creaminess of the beans.
Also, using a 1:1 ½ ratio of rice to water is commonly used, compared to the usual 1:2. This said, if you’re using boxed rice, always refer to the instructions at the back.
This classic New Orleans rice dish has undergone a number of variations throughout the decades. Despite that, this iconic beans and rice duo have never failed to mesmerize those who try the dish and have not stopped giving people that whiff of nostalgia and comfort.
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