our favorite creole dishes

Gen's Slow Cooker Red Beans

This post requires a disclaimer: I feel all kinds of vulnerable posting this recipe. If you grew up eating your mama’s red beans, mine will not compete. Everyone has an opinion about how dishes like this should be made, and I’d love to hear yours! Feel free to modify this recipe to your heart’s content. Just know that my kid prefers these red beans, AND HE ALWAYS WILL.

One of my favorite ways to start the day is to plunk a bunch of ingredients into my crockpot. Dinner is already done, and I feel so productive that it usually spurs me to check even more off of my to-do list. A bowl of red beans and rice is one of the easiest and cheapest meals that my little family loves to eat.

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Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups of dried red beans (Camellia brand if you can get it!)
  • diced green bell pepper
  • diced yellow onion
  • diced celery (4-5 stalks)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Creole seasoning to taste (I use Tony’s)
  • 48 oz chicken or vegetable stock
  • hot sauce to taste (I like Crystal or Tabasco)
  • a bay leaf or two 
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Optional:

  • salt and pepper to taste (There’s usually salt and pepper in the Creole seasoning, but I like to micromanage my flavors)
  • andouille sausage, precooked (This isn’t really optional, because it adds so much flavor. However- I usually don’t eat the sausage itself, so I cut largeish slices that are easy to spoon out of my bowl into my husband’s. If you’re making this as a meatless dish, leave out the sausage and swap vegetable broth for chicken broth.)

BUZZKILL but IMPORTANT: There is a risk of toxicity if you don’t prepare your kidney beans correctly. They need to be soaked in water for at least 5 hours (then discard the water and rinse) and then boiled for a minimum of 10 minutes to destroy the toxin (phytohaemagglutinin) which can be found in kidney beans. You may then cook your red beans in the slow cooker.

Instructions:

1. Prepare your red beans as stated above, then place in slow cooker.

2. Add diced bell pepper, onion, celery. Add minced garlic. Add stock.

3. Season to taste (I usually entirely cover the surface of the stock with a light layer of seasoning) and hit it with some dashes of hot sauce.  

4. Artfully place bay leaf on top. Stir.

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5. Cook on LOW for at least 8 hours or on HIGH for at least 5-6 hours.

6. Serve with rice and hot French bread. (We only ever use jasmine or basmati rice because we know what’s good.)

Optional:

  • If you’ve got the time, saute your peppers, onions, and celery with some salt and pepper before adding to the crockpot for increased depth of flavor.
  • I add the sausage about 6-8 hours after cooking on LOW, then I bump the heat up to HIGH for an hour or two to finish cooking with the sausage. Before you add sausage is a good time to taste your beans to see if the seasoning level is where you want it to be.
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Kat’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo Recipe

I’ve heard someone say that he wouldn’t marry a girl unless she knew how to make a roux.  Well, knowing how to make one is one thing.  But that doesn’t mean you need to make one every time you make gumbo.  I’ll tell you what I mean later.

Here’s what you need to make it:

  • One jar of Kari’s roux (found some for you if you're out of state; v. expensive, but still there!) OR one cup of oil and one cup of flour if you’re making your own roux
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 ribs celery, chopped
  • 4 - 6 cloves garlic, minced (you can throw in a few more if you like garlic)
  • 4 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Creole seasoning, or to taste (see below for ingredients)*
  • 1 large chicken, cut into pieces (Note:  You can use a store-bought rotisserie chicken, cooked chicken breasts or thighs; I’ve even used leftover Thanksgiving turkey)
  • 2 pounds andouille or smoked sausage, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • A bag or two of frozen okra (can make the gumbo slimy, and when I was little I used to think the seeds were eyeballs, so maybe avoid it if your kids aren’t familiar with okra)
  • 1 bunch scallions (green onions), tops only, chopped
  • 2/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
  • Filé powder to taste 
  • 2-4 cups of rice

*Creole Seasoning (and some lagniappe):

  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Dashes of hot sauce to taste
  • and a glug of red wine (unnecessary, but if you have it, use it!)

The steps:

1. Chop up all of the veggies and garlic.

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2. Cook the chicken if it’s not already cooked.  

  • Boneless chicken breasts are easy because all you have to do is cut them up, put some olive oil in the pan, and cook them on medium heat for a few minutes.  Season with salt (if you’re not using Tony’s), pepper, and Tony’s (use in place of salt, or do a little Tony’s and a little salt).
  • If you’re using a whole chicken, when you go to put it in the pot, use a colander that fits inside of your gumbo pot (if you have one) so that small bones or pieces of bones don’t escape into your broth.  It’s nice to simmer the gumbo with the bones because it adds a stronger flavor to the gumbo. 
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3. Brown the sausage (this step is optional; I never do it, but it definitely will help make the flavor more robust).

4. **SKIP STEP FOUR IF YOU HAVE PRE-MADE ROUX** If you want to make your own roux, use one cup of oil and one cup of all purpose flour and stir continuously over medium to high heat in a figure 8 motion in your big gumbo pot.  If you see black specks in your roux, you’ve burned it and need to start over.  I’d start on medium heat, and if you start to feel confident and want to raise the temp, do so, but do NOT stop stirring because you’ll burn the roux and have to start over.  

  • The roux is done when it is a dark reddish brown or coffee with a tiny bit of creamer color.
  • Once the roux is done, add the vegetables (onion, bell pepper, celery) and stir the roux while adding vegetables.  (If you can get someone to help you with this, it’s probably better and maybe even safer.)
  • Then add the stock and seasonings (except the filé powder, scallions, and parsley).

5. If you’re not making your own roux, skip step four and its sub-steps.  Boil the chicken stock and add half of the jar of roux, either liquid roux or powder roux (regardless of what kind you use, use about half of the jar).

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  • This is the best secret in gumbo making.  Kari’s roux is made in Ville Platte, Louisiana, and it’s so good.  If you don’t have time to sit there and stir flour and oil to make your own roux, this roux is the perfect solution.  People can call it cheating; it doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t make your own, it just means you’re busy and you know a good roux when you taste it—this is absolutely a good one.

6. Once the roux is entirely liquified, add veggies, garlic, seasonings, sausage, chicken, and okra (basically everything except for the scallions, parsley, and filé powder).  Let mixture start boiling again.

7. When the mixture is boiling, lower heat to low setting and let simmer in the pot for at least two hours.  If you decide to cook it all day and need to leave the house, let it simmer for about an hour on low and then transfer to a crockpot and put it on low.

8. Cook the rice.  Each bowl could use a heaping ice cream scoop of cooked rice, so make rice according to how many people you will have eating with you.

9. Add a heaping ice cream scoop’s worth of rice to top of bowl of gumbo.

10. Add parsley and scallions as a garnish; then add filé powder to taste.