Monday, April 19, 2010

Simple Red Beans and Rice with Elk Sausage

Whether it's gooey mac and cheese, a big bowl of chili, or a nice steamy bowl of chicken noodle soup, everyone has a few comfort foods that they always turn to. With law school exams looming (my first is a week from today) I was in need of a good dinner after spending the afternoon in the library outlining. My aunt gave me a few elk sausages awhile back and I've been trying to figure out something special to do with them because, well, when is the next time I'll have something that unique in my freezer? After some thought I settled on red beans and rice. Spicy cajun food always makes for a nice, comforting meal. I looked over a few traditional recipes, but they all were a bit more time consuming than my attention span was going to allow. I'm sure plenty of people wouldn't necessarily consider this recipe authentic, but the final product was hearty, earthy and just what I needed.

Most red beans and rice recipes call for andouille sausage, which you should be able to find at any grocery store. I've made this with spicy turkey sausage before, which is a great alternative. It's so much less fatty than pork sausage, and honestly, I don't think there is a huge difference in the taste. Omit the sausage and add more veggies like green bell pepper and tomato for a vegetarian option. This is really an easy recipe that you can change to suit your tastes. I try to use brown rice more often than white, but I was in a comfort food, white rice kind of mood last night.

Red Beans and Rice


1 lb. sausage of your choice (smoked sausage will cut down on your prep time since you just need to heat it up)

1 15 oz. can red beans, drained and rinsed

1 small yellow onion, diced

2-3 stalks of celery

A few tablespoons of olive oil (I try to use only as much as I need to cut down on calories)

1.5 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 cup uncooked rice

4 cloves garlic, minced (I love garlic, use less if you don’t!)

Cajun seasoning, to taste

Sriracha, to taste

Salt, to taste

Fresh cracked pepper, to taste


1. Bring 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water to a boil in a sauce pan. Add rice and cook based on package directions (if you're using using minute rice do this step later).

2. Brown sausage with a bit of oil in a deep pan until warm and browned. Leave residue in the pan for cooking vegetables. Remove and slice at an angle.

3. Add enough oil to saute vegetables and turn heat to medium-high. Add some salt, pepper and cajun seasoning to taste (I use Weber N'Orleans Cajun). Saute until onions begin to caramelize and celery softens, around six minutes. Be careful not to burn the garlic, it will get bitter tasting if you do.

4. When vegetables are mostly cooked add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken stock and beans and scrape any burnt bits off your pan. For extra heat I added some Sriracha. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes until beans are cooked through and creamy.

5. Serve over rice.

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