My friend Kirstin asked if I ever put any of my recipes on my blog. At the time I said, "actually, no", but she got me thinking about it. So I thought I'd give it a try. Why not? You can let me know how you feel about this as an occasional blog idea.
The above is my version of redbeans and rice. This was dinner two nights ago. It was the first time I ever made it. Tim liked it, although it was a wee bit spicy. Easy enough to tone down for the next time. I don't know the actual amounts of anything I put into this because I kind of didn't follow a recipe. I sort of followed about six of them and then winged it.
Poor Tim has to put up with being on the eating end of a lot of my food experiments. The terror that must run through that man's heart every time he wanders into the kitchen with me in full mad scientist mode and I say the dreaded words, "I'm creating'. He never complains though and always eats the results that I present to him. But I know that quietly, on the inside, there must be a very interesting dialogue going on.
I feel like Detective Adrian Monk when I write this but, here's what happens:
Monday morning I rooted through the fridge and the pantry trying to think of what to make for dinner. I noted that there were two already cooked leftover pork chops (they come in a package of three y'see) that should probably be used. What should I make? I considered and discarded a lot of ideas, primarily because I didn't have the ingredients or substitute ingredients and because of the Tropical Storm going on, I really didn't feel like popping out to the grocery store for any missing items. I thumbed through my cookbooks and my pile of recipes that I've collected from friends, family and cut out of magazines over the years. Some I've actually tried, others not.
One, in particular, jumped out at me. It was actually cut out of a newspaper that was yellowed and crinkly with age. Red Beans and Rice it said. Hmmm, I said. I scanned the ingredients, most of which I had and while it mentioned nothing about leftover pork chops, it did sound as if pork chops could, in some way be utilized with it. Okay, now I have a jumping off point. I pulled the cook books back out and found other recipes for Red Beans and Rice in two of the books. All three recipes were different, sometimes VERY different but one of them mentioned flavouring with ham bone. Hmmm again. Leftover pork chop and ham. They come from the same critter. Close enough!
I read carefully through all three recipes and then, just for good measure, looked up a few more on line. The most important part of all these recipes to me, were the things that they had in common. All of them had the red beans concoction served over the rice. All of them involved onion, peppers, celery and garlic. And of course the red beans and the rice. Some of them were complete from start to finish in 30 minutes, others simmered for hours.
One more quick scan through all of these recipes and I'm ready to roll. Information absorbed, I put all of the books away and started to assemble ingredients. I like to gather all the necessaries before I start so I'm not scrambling last minute having discovered that I do not, after all, have enough of this or that. So I put on my apron and began making a mess of the kitchen.
It turned out that while I had onion, garlic and celery, I did not have any fresh peppers of any sort. Dang. I did however have a can of chopped "hot" jalapenos. Why I do not know. Never mind, it'll do. I gently sautéed my veggies in my largest frying pan, sprinkled them liberally with Cajun spice (an awesome concoction of spices that should be in every one's spice rack by the way) I trimmed any fat from the leftover pork chops and chopped them up before adding. Once the onions starting looking translucent, I turned the heat up a tiny bit before adding some white cooking wine (improves every sauce), then turned it back down to simmer before adding the red beans.
I generally don't keep dry beans in the house, but for some unknown reason I did have a can of red beans, so rinsed and drained, I added those and then chicken stock. Now every single recipe said to add water. But water has no flavor. It's bringing nothing to the party so chicken stock it is!
It simmered along, covered, happily for about two hours. I occasionally stirred and if it looked as if the liquid was getting a little low I added a wee bit more cooking wine or chicken stock (whichever I grabbed first - seriously that's how I made the decision - very scientific methodology). Then I started the rice which is what...about a 30 minute thing? And threw some corn bread together and put it in the oven - another half hour jobbie. At the last minute, I realized that there was no green vegetable involved (other than the peppers and celery of course) and so I chopped up some baby spinach and seconds before serving sort of folded it into the bean concoction to allow it to wilt. Just wilt. Not cooked to mush.
Concoction served over perfect rice, corn bread on the side and taadaa, Red Beans and Rice and a great way to get rid of leftover pork chops. Tim really liked it. The only thing I would have done differently would be to have used fresh jalapenos. The canned ones were weird and I don't know what they use to make it "hot" but it was way too spicy and weirdly so.
Oh and if you didn't already know, the secret to perfect rice? I make the Uncle Ben's original type. You know the one, water, rice bring to a boil, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes...that one? Put a tea towel between the pot lid and the pot to make a more perfect seal. Once the 20 minutes are up, remove from the heat completely, leave pot and tea towel in place for 5 more minutes, then remove lid and towel, give a stir and taadaa...perfect rice. Works every time.
Give me some feedback on the idea of the occasional recipe on the Blog. My feelings won't be hurt I promise.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.