Thanks to a local Cajun and Creole restaurant here in East Dallas, I've developed a taste for slow cooked food with deep layers of spice and flavor. But ordering out Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, Shrimp and Grits, or Crawfish Étouffée three nights as week does a number on my pocketbook!
(Side note: I'm eternally grateful this restaurant doesn't serve beignets, otherwise I'd have an even tougher time resisting it!)
An easy solution to my Cajun and Creole food addiction is to make my own slow cooked meals at home. However, there are plenty of times I don't have the foresight to start these dishes at the butt crack of dawn so they can simmer all day long.
Creole Seasoning to the Rescue
So, when dinner time rolls around and a huge craving for Creole food strikes, what to do?
Make a quick recipe with lots of spices and pantry staples, so you can fudge that slow cooked flavor and still enjoy a delicious meal in about 45 minutes or less.
Rice and Beans is a Quick, Frugal Meal
That's how I came up with this creole rice and beans recipe with sausage. I poked around my pantry and fridge, found some basmati rice, canned beans (and my own frozen homemade beans), homemade beef stock, canned fire roasted diced tomatoes, fresh red bell pepper, onion, celery, and garlic. I already had a homemade batch of Emeril's Essence (Creole seasoning) in my cabinet, so I went in search for recipe techniques.
With a beans and rice recipe on the brain, I did a quick online search and stumbled upon a one-pot recipe from Southern Bite. It seemed simple enough, but I didn't have any instant rice on hand. Because of this I knew I'd have to cook the rice separately, which was not a big deal at all.
Sure, it would have been easy to cook the whole dish in my French Oven from start to finish, but I didn't want to chance that annoying song and dance of opening up the lid to find the rice still crunchy, adding more water, cooking it a bit, checking again, etc. I've tried too many random recipes online to know that cooking the rice in the same liquid as the rest of the dish is a science/art form.
Creole Rice and Beans Recipe with Sausage
An easy rice and beans recipe with smoked sausage and plenty of Creole seasoning. It only takes about 45 minutes on the stove top to make, and is a quick way to satisfy a craving for Creole flavor when you don't have time to slow cook all day.
Adapted from One-Pot Red Beans and Rice by Southern Bite
1-2 tablespoons of cooking oil (I used bacon grease)
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
1 package (12 oz) of kielbasa or andouille sausage, sliced
2 bell peppers (I used red & orange), seeded and diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
Sea salt & pepper to taste
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2+ tablespoons of Creole seasoning (I used Emeril's Essence)
4 cups of homemade broth (I used beef)
1 can (15 oz) of fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
2 bay leaves
2 cups of cooked beans (canned or homemade beans -- I used red & pinto)
2 cups of cooked white rice (I cook mine separately in homemade broth)
Sliced green onions, for garnish (optional)
Bottled hot sauce, for serving (optional)
Note: If you want this recipe saucier, you can keep the cooked rice on the side, scoop a portion into each serving bowl, then ladle the creole mixture on top. When you mix the rice in, it'll absorb pretty much all of the liquid!
Heat a large stock pot or French oven on medium, then add your desired cooking oil. Peel and dice your onion, add it to the pot, and cook for about five minutes. Slice the smoked sausage and if you want it in smaller bite sized pieces, halve or quarter those slices. Add the sausage to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes until it starts to form a little color.
While that's cooking, start your rice in a separate pan with a lid, then dice the celery and bell peppers, and add both to the onions and sausage. Season everything to taste with a bit of sea salt and cracked black pepper. Peel and mince three cloves of garlic, stir that in and cook for about a minute. Measure in the Creole seasoning and bay leaves, give everything a stir, then pour in the homemade stock and canned tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover with a lid, reduce heat to medium low, and cook 15-20 minutes, or until all the veggies are tender. (If you have extra time to kill and started dinner early, you can keep this step going until you're ready to serve. It will just continue to intensify the flavor.)
When the rice is tender and the veggies are cooked through, stir in the cooked beans (if using canned, make sure to drain and rinse them first) and rice, making sure the liquid coats everything thoroughly. Top with sliced green onion as a crunchy garnish and serve immediately with a bottle of your favorite hot sauce!
I'd like to hear from YOU!
What's your favorite way to give your home cooked meals a Creole or Cajun flavor? Do you have a favorite spice blend that you always use or a story to share? Do tell!
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