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About this time last year, I was visiting my dear friend in New Orleans. I had never been to the city, and was ready to drive 10 hours straight south to visit, explore, and eat. The flavors of New Orleans reflect the rich, unique culture of the city. I spent hours wandering the French Quarter, exploring funky boutiques along Magazine street, and marveling at the architecture around every corner. New Orleans is a place set apart from the world I live in. Maybe I had one too many beignets, but when I think about that trip to New Orleans, it’s almost like remembering a really good dream. A whimsical, carefree, musical dream fragrant with the aromas of the neighborhood crawfish boil. I long to visit that dreamy city again.

Red beans and rice is a classic New Orleans dish. I didn’t realize the complex flavors that go into red beans and rice. Layers of smokey bacon fat, spicy peppers, built on a foundation of the holy trinity (green bell pepper, onion, celery) and simmered for hours to thicken and develop even more complicated flavors. This is not a traditional recipe, but it tastes like it is one and it’s super easy to make. It will take some time to cook, so I suggest making it on a lazy Sunday afternoon and eating it throughout the week. To make it gluten free, simply serve over cauliflower rice.

Red Beans and Rice
Inspired By: Emeril Lagasse Red Beans and Rice
Prep Time: 30 min. Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 min.

Ingredients:

3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb. smoked andouille sausage, sliced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños, deseeded and diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 quart chicken stock
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pinch cayenne pepper (I like 1/2 teaspoon in mine)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Preparation:

In a large dutch oven over medium heat, melt the bacon fat and add onion, jalapeño, green pepper, and celery. Cook for about 7 minutes or until tender. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper, garlic, and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Add cayenne pepper, paprika, and sausage. Cook sausage until browned, about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour. Smash 1/3 of the beans with the back of a wooden spoon and continue to cook for 20 minutes.

Serve over rice