14 May 2008

Gluten Free Adopt a Blogger: Cajun Red Beans and Rice

This month my adoptee was Shauna, from Gluten Free Girl.

Shauna's well known in the gluten free community for her stunning food photos and scintillating blog-skills. She's even gotten media coverage on the food network.

*This is me being jealous*

Anywhoodles, she's a really really good cook, and that's all you really need to know...

I was looking for a really great gf recipe from her wide, wide selection of gf offerings. The flourless chocolate torte tempted me....until we (the Carnivore and I) made a pact to go without refined sugar for a month. Drat. I decided, in light of my overwhelming sugar-temptation, to steer clear of anything remotely sweet and go for an entree instead.

There were so many choices that it was hard to narrow it down. Not entirely hard - Shauna's got a lot of meat/fish entrees, and while we spend the vast majority of the fall and winter meatifying ourselves, spring and summer are essentially vegetarian if not vegan affairs. I decided to go with her fantastic cajun red beans and rice recipe.

Now her recipe calls for sausage, and maybe ham, and... we're not eating meat, so I did have to do a bit of tweaking.

I calculated how much seasoning goes into 2 lbs of andouille sausage and added it to the recipe. This helps the general flavour of the meal to remain consistent to her recipe without sacrificing philosophy/budget.

Here's the link to her original recipe. At the risk of offending the adopter-goddesses, I'm including the vegan version here. My changes are marked in BLUE.

Tweaked Vegan Version of Cajun Red Beans and Rice

* 1 pound red kidney beans, dry
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 1 bell pepper, chopped
* 5 ribs celery, chopped
* As much garlic as you like, minced (I like lots, 5 or 6 cloves)
* I OMIT THE HAM HOCK she called for here
* Instead of sausage, use the extra seasonings I list:
  1. 1/2 tsp of Cayenne
  2. 1 1/2 tsp Paprika
  3. 2 cloves Chopped Fresh Garlic
  4. pinch Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  5. 1 tbsp Kosher Salt
  6. 2 Tsp Fresh Thyme leaves, chopped
  7. 1/4 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

* 1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
* 1 or 2 bay leaves
* As many dashes Crystal hot sauce or Tabasco as you like, to taste
* Creole seasoning blend, to taste; OR,
* red pepper and black pepper to taste
* Salt to taste

Soak the beans overnight, if possible. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot. (This helps reduce the, um, flatulence factor.) Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans for about 45 - 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.

[Not having planned ahead, I only had canned beans. I used three cans of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed them, then threw them in a big stockpot with some water, sherry, creole seasoning, bay leaves, and garlic cloves. I let them boil away for about half an hour.] I just used the rinsed cans of beans, and added the bay leaves, sherry, and garlic cloves, without boiling again.

While the beans are boiling, sauté the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

[I'm pretty much thinking that the more garlic, the better.]

After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, then add the ham hock (or ham or pickle meat), smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover. Here I jsut used the extra seasonings and omitted the meat.

[I skipped the ham hock, which I'm sure was a travesty. Intead, I just threw in the sausages, seasonings, a little water, more sherry, and the shrimp.]

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn't burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot. (If the beans are old -- say, older than six months to a year -- they won't get creamy. Make sure the beans are reasonably fresh. If it's still not getting creamy, take 1 or 2 cups of beans out and mash them, then return them to the pot and stir.)

[As I wrote, when the concoction had boiled down to as much liquid as I wanted, I threw it into the crockpot and let it bubble on high for nearly three hours.]

If you can ... let the beans cool, stick them in the fridge, and reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They'll taste a LOT better. When you do this, you'll need to add a little water to get them to the right consistency.

Serve generous ladles-ful over hot white long-grain rice.

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