Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Slow Cooker red beans & rice made with dried beans, and cooked with a ham bone, bacon and smoked sausage.

Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

Though it's a tradition in the Deep South, we don't have red beans and rice every single Monday of every week at my house, but, I admit that when we don't, things do seem to feel a little out of sorts for me. It's just a routine that has been part of the culture down here for all of my life really. Even as a career woman working outside of the house, red beans and rice were the special of the day, every Monday, at local restaurants we frequented for lunch.

When I make them at home, I've pretty much made my homemade red beans and rice the same way since I've been cooking them - low and slow on the top of the stove. For many of us who do work outside of the home, that's just not possible to pull off on a Monday though, so we either have to plan ahead and prepare them on Sunday night, which many of us do, or else we have to rely on our modern appliances to give us a helping hand.

Most of you know that I've never been a big fan of the crockpot for much other than pulled pork or roasts, feeling it pretty much boiled everything else to death, but with the prompts of our family of readers here, I've been trying to learn to love my slow cooker these past couple of years. Of course, you don't have to limit your consumption of red beans and rice to a Monday either. With a slow cooker, you can have them any day of the week. Here's how to make the slow cooker version of my homemade red beans and rice.

Now first, a warning. Don't you just love when you have to issue a warning with a recipe?

Eating raw kidney beans can be dangerous, so don't do that. Seems that they have some pesky compound that needs to be cooked out of them, so make sure that any kidney bean you consume is very well cooked and not even slightly undercooked. Although the accuracy of sources across the internet is debatable, for the safety of those who do not wish to take risks, who have small children or who are pregnant, always preboil the beans just to be on the safe side. Put them in a stockpot, bring to a rolling boil, boil for 10 minutes, drain, rinse and then transfer to the slow cooker.

I still like to saute all of the ingredients, rather than to just dump everything in the slow cooker raw. To me, that process takes very little prep time while making a strong contribution to the flavor, so it's worth the effort.

In a separate skillet, cook 3 slices of chopped bacon until the fat is rendered. To that, add 2 cups of chopped onion, 1 cup of chopped bell pepper, and 1/2 cup of chopped celery and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, black pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon of dried basil and 1 bay leaf into the vegetable mixture stir together and transfer to the slow cooker.

I purposely do not use any additional salt with my beans until the end of the cooking process, mostly because I find that there is plenty of sodium present in the added meats already, and also in my experience, sometimes it does seem to affect the cooking time on beans.

I added 7 cups of hot water and I also like to use warmed water so that the slow cooker doesn't have to take that time for heating and can get right to work!

Saute the sausage in that same skillet with a bit of olive oil or vegetable oil, until nicely browned, then transfer it to the slow cooker pot.

You can add a ham bone, a couple of ham hocks, or just some additional chopped ham to the beans for extra flavor. If you're lucky enough to have a ham bone, slide that right into your beans now.

This was an especially meaty bone, so with the addition of the smoked sausage, I didn't add any extra ham. If your bone is sparse or if you are using ham hocks, add in some chopped, cooked ham, toward the end of the cooking process.

Cover and let her go on high for 5 to 7 hours or so. My beans were nice and tender right at about 5 hours on high. When the beans are cooked through, remove 1 cup of them, but drain the liquid back into the slow cooker.

Mash the beans to form a paste and stir that back into the pot. Add a tablespoon or three of butter into the beans if you like, for a little extra richness too. Totally optional.

Taste, add salt and cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve over hot, cooked rice and garnish with sliced green onion, if desired. Pass Cajun seasoning and hot sauce at the table.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Red Beans and Rice

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 7 hours | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1 pound of dried, Camellia brand red kidney beans
  • 3 slices of bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups of chopped onion
  • 1 cup of chopped bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup of chopped celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, vegetable or canola oil
  • 1/2 pound of andouille or spicy smoked sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 meaty ham bone or 2 ham hocks
  • 7 cups of hot water
  • Kosher salt to taste, if needed
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste, optional
  • Hot, cooked rice
  • Sliced green onion, for garnish, optional
  • Cajun seasoning and hot sauce, for the table

Rinse and sort beans and use a quick boil method before adding them to the slow cooker. Put them in a pot, bring to a boil, boil for 10 minutes, drain and transfer to a 6 quart slow cooker.

In a separate skillet, cook the bacon until the fat is rendered. To that, add the onion, bell pepper, and celery and sauté until the veggies are tender. Add the garlic, black pepper, basil and bay leaf into the vegetable mixture, stir together and transfer to the slow cooker. Add the oil to the skillet and saute the sausage until browned. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add the ham bone. If using ham hocks, use a knife to cut slashes into the fat before adding to the slow cooker.

Add 7 cups of heated water, cover and cook for 5 to 7 hours on high, or until beans are tender and cooked through completely. Remove 1 cup of the beans, draining the liquid back into the slow cooker. Mash beans to form a paste and stir back into the beans. Taste, add salt as needed, and cayenne pepper, to taste, if desired. Scoop over hot, cooked rice, and serve with fresh French bread. Garnish with sliced green onion, if desired, and pass Cajun seasoning and hot sauce at the table.

Cook's Notes: Do not consume raw or undercooked kidney beans. Because there are concerns with potentially undercooking kidney beans when made in a slow cooker, I recommend using the boil method of pre-soaking to rid the beans of any toxins. I also recommend cooking them on high instead of low. Taste and add salt only once beans are fully cooked, and then only if it needs it. For extra richness, add up to 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of butter and stir in at the end. If you pre-soak your beans, you'll need to increase the water so that they cover the beans by about an inch or so.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on February 28, 2012

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  1. Red Beans and Rice is a favorite of mine. I already have the red kidney beans. I'm off to the grocery.

    Thank you.

  2. I spent one year in New Orleans when I was 5 years old. From that one year, I developed a life long love of red beans and rice.

  3. When I was young, Mom always used kidney beans (vs pintos here) in chili and I'm still a fan of them. Not being a big rice eater, this is not a dish that I would usually order or make, but while in New Orleans, I had to try it at The Rivershack tavern along with a piece of fried gator sausage and I enjoyed them both. Now that I've read your recipe I'm about ready to head for the store and buy the makings.

  4. Same here Sandi! And you're welcome, of course!

    Hey Pam! Yep, the food down here will tend to do that to folks. Enjoy!

    Hi Larry!! I don't use pintos in my chili with beans - I use red kidneys there too. They are so apart in flavor, and I guess I favor the kidney bean over the pinto, or even the smaller red beans that are sometimes used for red beans and rice. Hope that you enjoy the recipe!

    1. I sometimes make a 3 bean chili,I use pintos,black beans,and small red beans,to me the hull on the big red beans is too tough,but Your red beans and rice this this recipe sounds very tasty,I'm going to try it when I get some time off. :)

  5. Mary, Thanks again for another great recipe! I have a baked ham bone in the freezer that I believe will be good for this. I lived in Louisiana in the 80's and this is spot on to the recipe I got from a co-worker. I am sharing to FB so all my midwestern friends know what they are missing. Thnx. Teresa

  6. Mary, Thanks again for another great recipe! I have a baked ham bone in the freezer that I believe will be good for this. I lived in Louisiana in the 80's and this is spot on to the recipe I got from a co-worker. I am sharing to FB so all my midwestern friends know what they are missing. Thnx. Teresa

  7. I know that your Red Beans and Rice are awsome because I made them and posted it a year or 2 back. So I'm happy to know they turn out well in the crock pot too!
    I have not tried cooking beans in a slow cooker yet.
    I have a few slow cooker recipes bookmarked to try, but I'm with you Mary- some of them are really flavorless after they have cooked for so many hours.

    1. I'm still trying to learn to love the slow cooker outside of roasts Lynda! I do have to say that I really love the new Emeril cooker I got for Christmas. It actually seems to cook things just right, finally!!

  8. I love the tip about adding hot water to your slow cooker to start the process.

    It seems to me that if you do the preboil method, pour that water off, and put fresh water, it helps with the gas problem. Also, adding a pinch of soda when cooking helps, too.

    This reminds me how much I love red beans and rice but have not cooked them in a while. I'll make some this week.

    1. I do agree with that Georgia! I'm not sure if there is any scientific factor involved, but I had once heard or read about pouring off & starting with fresh water would remove some of the gas beans are known for. Enjoy your red beans and rice!

  9. Mary, I have never made Red Beans and Rice, but you have convinced me that I have to give them a try. I love using my slow cooker for beans, so I anxious to try your recipe. My Grandkids love beans, rice and cornbread, so I will be making these very soon.

  10. I haven't ever made them in the slow cooker, I always do stove top. But your process totally makes sense. I bet it leaves the house smelling so good.

  11. Thanks for the article and the recipe. I'm looking forward to making it this weekend. It will be nice to come home to after a very busy Saturday. I just want to confirm that the setting for the crockpot should be 'high for 5-7 hours', rather than on low? Thanks so much!

    1. Yes, it's high - depends on your crockpot as far as timing. Mine were ready at 5 hours, but if you're gonna be gone all day low would probably work fine, though it may take at least 8 hours on low, possibly even longer. I just didn't test it on low yet! Would you let me know if you try it on low?

    2. Thanks Mary! I will let you know how it turns out. I know that I will be gone for at least 8 hours, so I probably will try it on low. My pot has a 'keep warm' setting that would allow me to do the 5 hours and still have it be hot when I get home. But, I think low will be best for me. I've have good luck with beans that way. I never done beans & rice together though. Fingers crossed! :-) Thanks again!

    3. You're welcome! I'm sure that the low setting will be fine, but don't cook your rice in with the beans!! The beans cook by themselves, then you serve them over cooked rice. Just wanted to make sure that was clear!!

  12. Hi, thanks for the recipe. I have to admit, I don't cook, I had it for the first time a year ago and now I want to try it myself. I have two questions, the first one is, why do I have to mash the beans? and above the second to last picture shown it says to add a tablespoon or three to the beans ...tablespoon of what? Thanks you so much :):):)

    1. Hi Tania! You're only removing a portion of the beans to mash them & return to the pot & that is to help thicken the bean broth & make it more creamy. They don't cream up on their own quite the same in the crockpot as they do when cooking them on the stovetop. The tablespoon or three should have read "of butter." That just adds a nice richness but it's totally optional. Seems that butter got lost somewhere in the editing process but thanks for letting me know so I could fix it! :)

  13. Son and I had red beans N rice, with sausage for dinner tonight, and he told me that if I made it, it would be way better then the box mix!! So I found your recipe after reading several, and the specific longer steps, I know it will be really awesome! I cant wait!

  14. I made this last night. Amazing! Made corn bread and the world was perfect! Thanks for all of your amazing recipes!

    1. Aw, you're so welcome! Glad y'all enjoyed the red beans.

  15. I made these red beans and rice today for a family reunion...everyone was AMAZED!!!...and my husband said (and I quote) "these are THE BEST red beans and rice I have EVER had!!!" Awesome recipe!...Such bold flavor. Thanks to you I am finally learning how to cook (lol) and I'm figuring out that it seems that 'layering' is a great way to begin lol :D Thank you for your wonderful cooking knowledge!!!!!!! :D C:

    1. You're welcome Reagan! I'm so glad that your family enjoyed the red beans & rice & I really appreciate you taking the time to come back & share this with me - thanks!

  16. I made this the other day.Soaked my beans overnight and replaced the water with fresh hot water as you suggested.I then cooked on low for about 8 hours.This was fantastic! I've made red beans a million times on the stovetop and don't think they've ever been this good.I'll be doing the slow cooker method from now on.Thanks for a great recipe!

    1. You're welcome Laurie!! The slow cooker is really great for these isn't it? I'm so glad to hear that you enjoyed them and thank you so much for taking the time to stop back by and let me know that you enjoyed the recipe!

  17. This sounds amazing. I have a question, I've never used bay leaf in any of my recipes and was wondering if not using it causes a drastic difference in flavor?

    1. Hi Rusty! We cook with bay leaf a lot down here in a lot of different dishes & like any other spice or herb it does contribute it's own flavor. To be honest, I've never not had any so I'm not sure, but you should still have a pretty good pot of beans with out it.

  18. Hi Mary. I was wondering how much of a difference the bay leaf makes? I've never used it before so I'm clueless to the potency and to the fact if you eat it or not after its cooked.

    1. Though bay leaf can also be crushed into a dish typically it's just used to season and then discarded at the end of cooking time before serving. That's how it's used the most.

  19. Hi Mary! Great Blog and post. My family hails from Shuqualak and it reminds me of my many aunts and grandmother.

    You are the first to mention how sick you can become when using dried beans. It's not only red beans, but black beans, etc. It is a naturally occurring insecticide in the bean. If you use dried beans, you must not just plump them by soaking, but you must boil them for 10 minutes or so to kill off the naturally occurring element. This is why slow cooking beans causes the most problems as they do not boil.

    Even Alton Brown didn't mention this during an episode about beans and the 1 time I received a response from the Food Network.

    Why do I know this, because I prepared a black beans and quinoa dish one evening and exactly 3 hours later I was re-enacting a scene from "Something to Talk About" where Julia Roberts poisoned Dennis Quad. You won't die from it, but you sure wish you would. It hits you hard, but is over fast and takes only a bean or two to set this in motion.

    I no longer keep dried beans and use canned beans, but I drain and wash them to remove the excess salt, etc.

    Thanks for this and many great recipes and while I laugh about my bean experience, it isn't something you want to experience. I now tell my friends I have a recipe for "Revenge Chili". :-)


  20. How about switching out the sausage for chorizo?? Because I have chorizo and not sausage??

    1. The smoked chorizo would be a great substitute!


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