Last month I taught a class on beans and my friend volunteered to bring a recipe for Cajun Rice & Beans. She briefly explained the recipe and I have to say I wasn’t all that excited about the dish. I have only made rice & beans once or twice in married years and wasn’t a huge fan. They are usually dry, flavorless and nothing to rave about. Well….was I wrong!!! I seriously couldn’t get enough of these Cajun beans. They were packed with flavor, had a great kick, were dripping in sauce, and full of meat and vegetables–a complete meal at it’s best! My friend Debi is from Georgia and she made delicious corn bread to go along with the beans. The sweet cornbread and the spicy beans were the perfect combination.

There was another addition that I loved with this recipe. We served Southwestern Egg Rolls at our bean class and had the avocado ranch dip. The creaminess of the ranch dip went perfectly with the spiciness of the beans. This isn’t technically a part of the recipe, but when I recreated this recipe this week, it was a must in my book. I didn’t have avocados, so I just used our homemade ranch dip and blended in cilantro, a little lime juice and a can of diced green chilies. The spicy ranch dip was the perfect accompaniment to the spicy beans & rice. This recipe makes quite a bit, so invite friends over (hey…great Cinco de Mayo meal) or freeze the extras for later. Enjoy 😉

Cajun Red Beans Sausage and Rice
Ingredients
  1. 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. 1 lb. link sausage
  3. 24 oz. dried red beans
  4. 3-4 T. butter
  5. 2 garlic cloves, minced
  6. 1 large stalk celery, diced
  7. 1 1/2 onion, diced
  8. 1 jalapeno, diced (or two if you like more spice)
  9. 2 T. Cajun seasoning
  10. 3 c. chicken broth (or 3 c. water & 1 1/2 t. chicken bouillon--see tip below)
  11. 1 can tomato sauce
  12. 2 cans diced tomatoes
  13. Garlic powder, cayenne, paprika, Montreal Steak Seasoning, salt, black pepper, to taste
  14. Cooked White or Brown Rice
  15. Cornbread (I made our traditional cornbread using 1/2 pureed white beans)
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Instructions
  1. To cook the dried beans, put the 24 oz. of dried beans into my crock pot, filled the pot to the top with water and let them cook on high for 5 hours. By mid afternoon they were perfectly soft and tender and ready to be added to the pot for dinner. If you don't have time to cook the beans in the crock pot, you will need to watch them carefully for 1-2 hours boiling on your stove. If you don't want to use dried beans I am sure you could use canned beans. However..red beans are NOT kidney beans. You will need to find small red beans in the can for this dish.
  2. Cook the beans in the crock pot or on the stove until beans are tender and soft. Rinse the beans from the bean water and set aside. Cut the chicken breasts into bite sized pieces. In a large soup pot, heat half of the butter to medium heat and brown the chicken pieces until they are golden brown and cook until they are partially cooked through (not all the way cooked because they will cook again later). Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. Add the remaining butter to the pan and add the chopped celery, onions, garlic, and jalapenos to the pot. Saute until the onions become translucent and soft. Season this vegetable mixture heavily with all of the seasonings from above. Add the sliced sausage pieces to the pot and saute until the sausage is cooked through. Add the chicken back to the pot and add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, Cajun seasoning and the chicken broth. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until broth is warm. Add the cooked beans to the pot and continue to simmer until the vegetables are soft and meat is cooked through. Finish seasoning the beans to your liking. Serve beans with cooked rice, cornbread and spicy ranch dressing. Garnish with parsley or cilantro.
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(The vegetable, chicken and sausage mixture sauteing in the pan)

(I was shopping the other day with one of my good friends and she went to put a case of chicken broth into her cart. I about fell over dead thinking she was willing to spend $20 for 24 cans of chicken broth. To my horror I hadn’t shared one of my favorite cooking tricks with her and I realized I should probably share this tip again with you, my blogging friends.

I NEVER use cans of chicken or beef broth. Not because I don’t like it, just because it is SO expensive. It is like gold in a can. So…my solution is I buy a #10 80 oz. can of chicken bouillon and beef bouillon (or beef/chicken base from Costco) and keep it in my pantry for all of my recipes that call for chicken or beef broth. I purchase mine at either the Morning Moo Outlet Store in SLC, at Maceys or at my local Walmart. I have found the best price is usually during case lot sales or the everyday price at Walmart. (If you live outside of Utah, you can buy this product online). The #10 can of bouillon makes roughly 750 cans of chicken broth (for every 1 c. of water you add 1/2 t. of bouillon–there are over 1400 servings in a can). Here in Utah you can get the #10 can of bouillon for around $18. That makes the equivalent price per can only .02. That is TWO pennies…..wow!!! Isn’t that fun??? Compare 2 cents a can to .60-$1.00 a can. That is pretty good savings, huh?

You may be worried about the convenience. The nice thing is, you just add water to your recipes and then sprinkle in the bouillon. Or, you can mix it separately and then add to your recipe. Either way, it is very easy to use, very inexpensive and has great flavor! I make sure to have at least one extra can of each in my food storage. Bouillon is great to have in your food storage as well so you can flavor all of your recipes if you had to eat solely out of your storage (soups, gives flavor to rice/pilafs, stews, beans, chilis, homemade cream of chicken soup, etc.)