Have you noticed that comfort food is also budget friendly?
Macaroni and cheese or chicken noodle soup use inexpensive ingredients and also remind us of home. We crave these dishes when we are sad, under the weather, or just want that warm feeling. Unfortunately, many of these comfort foods are very high in calories and fat.
For my family, red beans and rice fits the bill as the ultimate in comfort and thriftiness. With a few tweaks, it can also be quite healthy. One serving provides nearly 10 grams of fiber. No, I didn't have the opportunity to enjoy this as a child like many comfort foods. I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and never tried red beans and rice until I moved to Texas. My family has adopted this, along with many other "southern" foods, as a family favorite.
My recipe uses a slow cooker. The long, slow cooking time coaxes all the flavor of the sausage into the beans. This is a full flavored dish that will leave you satisfied. Don't skip browning the vegetables and meat before adding to the slow cooker. As Anne Burrell from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef says, "Brown food tastes good!". You will easily get 8 or more servings out of this recipe.
red beans and rice
7 cups water
1 pound dried small red beans (not kidney beans)
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups chopped celery
10 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 pounds smoked sausage, sliced (such as Healthy Choice)
8 oz lean ham, diced
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
salt to taste
hot cooked brown or white rice
Combine the water and beans in a slow cooker and turn on high. In a large saute pan, brown the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic in a little oil or cooking spray. Add the sauteed vegetables to the beans. Add the sausages and ham to the saute pan and brown, stirring occasionally. Stir into the beans along with the spices and Worcestershire sauce. Cover with the lid and cook on high for 5 hours or on low for 8 hours. Discard bay leaves; stir in green onions, parsley and salt. Serve in bowls over hot cooked rice.
"I like rice. Rice is great if you're hungry and want 2000 of something." Mitch Hedberg
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