Oh, BTW, hi again, Dave here from MY YEAR ON THE GRILL. The resident cook in training, famous for three puffed pastry postings in a row. 3 puffed pastry, Brussels Sprouts and now I’m goin’ Cajun… Today is an exciting day for me. The suburbs of Kansas City is hip and happening in a far out way, last night, my neighborhood celebrated “Mardi Gras in the Cul de Sac”! Counting drinks, 13 menu items, to feed 10 people… Laissez les bons temps rouler indeed! I got to spend the day cooking, have fun with my friends, and my proposal to take part in the 24,24,24 FOODBUZZ challenge was accepted. I want to thank the girls from Our Krazy Kitchen for letting me take an extra day beyond my normal Thursday to tell you all about my first ALTON BROWN RECIPE!
Hopefully, you all know Alton Brown. Alton is host of “GOOD EATS“ on the FOOD NETWORK. I have two shows that I never miss (thanks to DVRs), and “GOOD EATS” is one of them. A cross between Julia Child and Mr. Wizard, Mr. Brown educates me (I need that), and is very entertaining!
“GOOD EATS” recently featured a recipe for that quintessential Cajun dish, RED BEANS AND RICE! No Mardi Gras celebration (nor Superbowl party (as I write this, the New Orleans Saints are one game away from the big show… go Saints)) would be complete without red beans and rice…
Here’s the recipe courtesy of the Food Network…
For red beans:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 12 ounces pickled pork, cut into 1-inch pieces, recipe follows
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 quarts water
- 1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Place the vegetable oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pickled pork, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.
Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking the beans. Place the water into an electric kettle and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil place the butter into a 3-quart saucepan, set over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble, add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the water over the rice and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the beans over the rice.
I actually made a version of dirty rice. Dirty rice has nothing to do with the cleanliness of (or lack of) your kitchen, it is rice made with a flavored liquid and bits of meat to give it a dark color and additional flavor. I substituted 1 and 1/2 cups of water with the flavored stock from the cooking beans and pork. I also took one of the pieces of pork and diced it up as fine as I could. I added this to the 1 and 1/2 cups of water and cooked the rice with these extra flavoring agents… My rice was indeed, GOOD EATS, and went well with the Red Beans and Pork!
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
- 2 tablespoons hot sauce
- 1 tablespoon celery seed
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 8 ounces ice
- 1 1/2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes
Combine all of the ingredients except the ice and the pork in a 2-quart non-reactive saucepan, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the ice and stir. Place the pork into a 1-gallon zip top bag and add the cooled pickling liquid. Remove as much air as possible; seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, turning the bag occasionally. Use within 2 weeks or remove from the pork from the brine and freeze.
The dish is not very pleasing colorwise nor in texture. It’s beans and gravy after all. BUT, OMG… The pickled pork is so tender, the beans have all those flavoring accents and spices. If you toss on some extra goodies, like some slices of Andouille sausage grilled up and added as accents certainly makes the dish look more appealing. But, once you dig into the dish, all problems with the looks are instantly gone. It is simply that good. My first Alton Brown recipe, and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I CAN COOK THAT!
Now, being from Kansas, I don’t have access to very many authentic Cajun items. Fortunately, the good folks from Cajun Grocer: Authentic Cajun Products have all the mail order products, recipes and ideas for hosting your own AUTHENTIC Cajun party… even in the Cul de Sacs of Kansas. I got a batch of Andouille sausage, as well as a king cake from them. Even Alligator tail meat (made a great etouffee)!
Come take a look at my site today. I will have plenty to post about all the different foods… Everything that worked great (and maybe a couple that I need to revisit later). See you all Thursday!