Recently I have been reading a lot of southern cookbooks and all of them have a recipe for the basic dinner staple Red Beans & Rice. Growing up I had a nanny from Guyana (a state in South America), who use to force feed me red beans and rice and needless to say I have been scarred for life on this dish. Also who wants to make a dish that requires you to soak beans overnight?
But as I read the tempting descriptions and seduced by the mouth watering pictures I was seeing, I caved into the the lure of the red rice and bean dish, and soaked myself a bag of red kidney beans overnight.
The grain bearing plant was introduced to America when African slaves were forced by the Spanish to move to Louisiana during the New World era. Because the crop was easy to grow in the harsh swamps of the state, it became an important food staple to both African slaves and Louisianans.
Eventually food grew scarce and the well-known Louisiana dish became a household staple in almost every home because of its inexpensive cost. In addition to its two main ingredients, the dish also included onion, meat, celery and an assortment of herbs and spices.
But what intrigued me the most about reading the history of beans and rice, is that New Orleans, this meal was traditionally saved for Monday Nights. Why Monday nights you ask? Well depending who you ask, it was either because it was the best way to use up ham bone that was served for Sunday night dinner or because Monday’s were traditionally washing day for most households, and so women could put up the beans in the morning and not worry about dinner while they were off the whole day doing their household laundry and chores.
So fittingly enough this is the perfect dinner to make this Monday night – even though my laundry day is usually every day with a 2 year old in the house! I found by using the leftover deli I usually have from Shabbos, it was not only a superbly tasty addition to the recipe, but also a great way to keep that practical tradition the New Orleanais had using their ham bone.
Meaty Baked Beans & Rice
adapted from Cook’s Country
Note: After making this recipe initially in the slow cooker, which was just fine and the beans were extremely delicious – I do believe that making this recipe in the oven would be even better. I have given both options here.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped deli meats (I used leftover turkey roll, corn beef & pastrami roll)
2 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
3 cups water
1 lbs. pink beans, pinto or red kidney, soaked overnight & drained
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 350 F
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, all the spices and all the chopped deli and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the water and the beans and bring to a boil. Cover, transfer to the oven and cook until beans are just beginning to soften – about 1 hour.
For the slow cooker users: Remove the beans from the oven, transfer all the beans,( minus most of the liquid that is left) to your slow cooker, add the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Bake until beans are completely tender and sauce is slightly thickened, 2-3 hours.
For the One Pot Oven Users: For those of you who are NOT using a slow cooker, after the first hour of cooking, stir in the ketchup, brown sugar and mustard. Bake, uncovered, until beans are completely tender and sauce is slightly thickened 2-3 hours. If the sauce has thickened but the beans are still not tender, add up to 1 1/2 cups of water and continue baking.
For the RICE:
Cook jasmine rice according to instructions. Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and serve topped with a nice heaping of meat baked beans.