It was 2 degrees when we woke up this morning. Patches of snow helped to brighten the stark winter landscape, but there is no escaping it…winter is taking itself very seriously in these parts. Sometimes when it’s this cold, there is a chill that just seems to permeate everything. This afternoon I have donned my warm boots and a sweater and am sipping a cup of tea. Warmth is elusive, but not impossible.
We’ve had a string of days like this in the past week or two and I will tell you that one of our most favorite ways to combat the winter chill has been this flavorful, slow-simmered bean dish. Just having these beans simmering away on the stove feels like a promise of warmth to come. But truthfully, what won us over is how incredibly scrumptious it is.
There is something about transforming hard, dried beans into a soft, succulent mouthful of deliciousness that feels like real cooking to me. And as much as I love cooking with dried beans, this is the first time I’ve used dried red beans (kidney beans), and boy howdy, am I ever sold. Absolutely divine.
There really is very little work involved in putting this dish together; just time and patience. Soaking the beans overnight softens them just enough so they cook up in only a couple of hours. And in that time they have a chance to soak up a hint of smoke from the kielbasa, but still taste like their lovely beany self.
But as good as those beans were, it’s the smoky, tasty kielbasa that will keep your spoon returning to the bowl long after you know you should set it down.
In my years of cooking beans I’ve learned a few things that served me well when it came to finishing this dish. I could tell from the photo, that the broth in the original recipe looked a bit thin. By letting the beans cook down a bit longer and then letting them rest for about ½ hour or so, the starch from the beans had time to thicken and richen up that sauce and impart some pretty great flavors. I made a few other changes to the recipe, and what we ended up with was a bean dish that we are now very attached to and that will become a regular in the Circle B Kitchen. Maybe you’ll feel the same. Here’s the recipe…
RED BEANS AND RICE WITH KIELBASA
Recipe adapted from Relish.com
This is an amazingly flavorful bean dish that’s a perfect meal for a chilly winter evening. I found that the trick to making this extra flavorful was to give the dish enough time to sit after cooking so that the beans can re-absorb some of the broth and in turn, thicken it up a bit. It’s so good served with rice – any type will do, so use your favorite; we paired it with jasmine rice and it was de-lish. The original recipe called for 1 ½ teaspoons of hot sauce, but I used quite a bit more than that. If you like it spicy, add some crushed red pepper flakes with the onion and celery.
1 pound dried red kidney beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound turkey kielbasa, cut into ¼-inch thick rounds
1 cup chopped onion
2 celery ribs, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon hot sauce (add more if you want it spicier)
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups hot cooked rice
Rinse beans. Place beans in a large bowl or Dutch oven. Cover with water by several inches. Let soak overnight.
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add kielbasa and cook until browned on both sides. Remove the Kielbasa, cover and refrigerate. Add onion, celery and garlic to the pan and cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain beans and add to pan. Add chicken broth and enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add hot sauce and salt.
Cook beans, partially covered, until tender, 1 ½ to 2 hours. Add more water if needed. Once the beans are soft, add the kielbasa back into the pot along with the chopped parsley. Heat through and taste for seasoning, adding more hot sauce or salt, if desired.
Simmer for about 20 more minutes, uncovered, and then remove from the heat and let sit (uncovered) for at least ½ hour to let the beans re-absorb the cooking liquid which will thicken the broth and intensify the flavors. If the broth seems too thick, just add a little water or broth. When ready to serve, heat through, but do not boil. Serve over hot rice.