I went looking for recipes to get some inspiration and quickly found a great vegetarian (eating lighter these days) red beans & recipe from the Sortachef blog. I adapted the recipe in three ways. I used chipotle and chili powder instead of straight up cayenne. Margot seems to be more sensitive to cayenne and I wanted her to be able to eat the dish at will. I added 1 tsp of liquid smoke to help offset the missing flavors that you would get in the traditional dish from sausage and/or other meats. I then added the juice of ½ of a lime. I am finding that a slight hit of acid in some dishes helps flavors express themselves.
2 cups dry Small Red Beans, soaked overnight
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 sticks celery with leaves, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
4 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups water
3 teaspoons of salt (reserve 1 tsp)
½ tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp of dry thyme
1 ½ tsp of oregano
½ tsp chipotle powder
½ tsp chili powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
Juice of ½ a lime
3 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
8 ounces of tomato sauce
Soak the beans overnight covered by 2 inches of water. Drain, rinse and pick out any stones, stems or rotted beans.
Heat the 4 Tbsp oil in a large dutch oven. Sauté the onion, celery and green pepper over medium-high, turning occasionally with a spatula. When the pepper has lightened in color and the onions are translucent remove the vegetables from the heat and drain off the excess oil. Wipe out the dutch oven and return the vegetables to it.
Add the beans and 6 cups of cold water to the sautéed veggies. Now add the salt (2 tsp), black pepper, oregano, thyme, chipotle, chili powder, liquid smoke, lime juice and garlic. Mix well.
Bake in the oven at 325°. Put bean pot on the center rack and bake for 2 ½ hours covered, stirring every half hour or so. After 2 ½ hours, add the tomato sauce and last 1 tsp of salt. Remove the lid from the bean pot. Increase the heat to 375° and cook for 2-3 hours, until beans are tender and the cooking liquid has thickened.
We enjoyed this hearty, but lighter than the classic, dish with a homemade Belgian White beer and the newest episode of the FX cartoon series Archer. The beer has coriander and bitter orange peel in it. Those flavors together with the creamy wheat body of the beer really worked well with the beans and rice. The pairing with Archer is a different sort of pairing all together. Off-color jokes and sexual innuendo are always good for a laugh and made for great atmosphere to enjoy dinner and a beer to on a Friday night.