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