Choosing a favorite food out of the great encyclopedia of New Orleans cuisine can be complicated. However, I find that the big winners always taste best when made at home with a family recipe. For me, Red Beans and Rice has always been an easy choice. It's been a part of my life forever and I've finally figured out how to make it with 100% of the taste I love and 0% of the guilt that comes from the deliciousness of salted pork and a ham hock.
As I've mentioned before, Tonys Chachere's Cajun Cookbook is the guiding light in my kitchen. My guilt-free red beans and rice recipe is closely adapted from his guidelines, as they have never failed me before. Also, they are abundantly simple (a fantastic trait for any recipe, IMHO).
Tony recommends pickled pork, but I swap that out with a little bit of turkey bacon and this glorious new find I came across at the grocery store last week: Richard's Cajun Selects All Natural Chicken Sausage.
At first, I was hesitant about using chicken sausage in the red beans but now I am completely sold. I think I've officially called my entire family to tell them about this sausage - but you know the secret has got to be that it's from a local company that knows it better be good or they're going to have a bunch of ruined red beans on their hands.
No pot of red beans and rice is complete for me without a Jiffy corn bread muffin and a hit of Tobasco. TBH, if the corn bread is not available, this dish goes down in my favorites ranking. Try the recipe below and let me know how it goes in the comments!
Guilt-Free New Orleans Red Beans and Rice
Easy to make and lightened up with cajun chicken sausage, this guilt-free authentic New Orleans red beans and rice recipe is sure to please.
1 pound dried red beans, soaked overnight if possible,
8 oz package of turkey bacon, sliced into 1/2 inch bites,
12 oz package of cajun chicken sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped Tony's Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
1. Combine all ingredients except bacon and sausage in a large pot. Cover with enough water to cover and cook 1.5 hours.
2. While beans are cooking, pan fry turkey bacon and chicken sausage, set aside.
3. Add meat after beans have been cooking for two hours and continue cooking until beans are tender. Add more water from time to time to make a thick, rich gray.
4. Serve with steamed rice. Pairs great with Jiffy corn bread and Tobasco.