by Chef Dez/Special to Black Press Media
Tuesday, March 1, is the Fat Tuesday celebration of Mardi Gras. It is the last day of the carnival season in New Orleans and always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday every year. The term Fat Tuesday represents the last day of eating richer fattier foods before the ritual fasting of Lent that begins on the Ash Wednesday.
To help you celebrate this annual event at your dinner table, I have provided you with my very popular recipe for Louisiana Red Beans and Rice. Usually red beans and rice would be served on Mondays as it was historically prepared with the leftover bones from a traditional Sunday ham supper. However this recipe is a delicious one pot meal and great served any time.
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
500g raw Italian sausages – hot or mild
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 medium onion, diced small
1 medium red bell pepper, diced small
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups long grain white rice
4 cups chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 – 540ml can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
Fresh thyme, for garnish, optional
Squeeze sausages from casings into a large heavy bottomed pot. Discard empty casings.
Turn the heat to medium-high and break up sausage meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon while cooking until brown, approximately 10 minutes.
Turn the heat to medium and add the celery, onion, bell pepper, garlic, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for approximately 2 to 3 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not brown, stirring occasionally.
Add the rice. Stir to coat with the fat and cook approximately 30 seconds until the rice becomes slightly opaque.
Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Stir to combine. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
Cover with a lid and reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove the pot from the heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.
Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the beans. Season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve immediately.
Makes 4 to 6 large portions.
– Chef Dez is a food columnist and culinary instructor in the Fraser Valley. Visit him at www.chefdez.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to P.O. Box 2674, Abbotsford, B.C. V2T 6R4