10 January 2011

Red Beans and Rice

About a week before New Year's Day, my dad called to tell me he found some jalapeno cooking wine at a local winery.  He asked me if I wanted a bottle and I couldn't say no.  Upon accepting his offer, my dad went on to ask me if I could use it in a dish for when they came over on New Year's Day.  I told him I would, even though I didn't really know what I was going to use it in.

Our traditional New Year's Day meal consists of corned beef and cabbage, black eyed peas, and corn bread.  All are dishes that are not usually spicy so I did not want to use the wine in any of those.  I thought about setting aside a portion of the black eyed peas for the wine, but that felt like a cop-out.  For some reason, red beans and rice popped into my head, and having never made it before, I searched the internet for a recipe.

Much to my delight, I found a red beans and rice recipe from none other than Alton Brown.  I am sad to say that I do not remember the episode where AB made the dish, but that didn't stop me from giving it a try.  One thing stuck out in the recipe that made me a little nervous: pickled pork.  Pickled pork?!

I thought about just leaving the pork out, but I decided if I was going to use AB's recipe, I might as well suck it up and pickle some pork.  It's always fun to try something new in the kitchen anyway, even if it will be served to a house full of people.  I was able to pickle the pork for three days for the red beans and rice, and I have enough left over for another batch.  Bonus!

The dish came together rather easily, and the jalapeno cooking wine was a perfect touch.  We still had the corned beef and cabbage and black eyed peas, but the red beans and rice was the star of the show.  If anyone went back for seconds, they usually came back with more red beans and rice on their plate.  The dish was spicy, but not overwhelming, and the pickled pork added a really nice tang.  It was delicious. 

Red Beans and Rice
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

For red beans:
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 medium onion, chopped
•2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
•3 stalks celery, chopped
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•5 cloves garlic, minced
•12 ounces pickled pork, cut into 1-inch pieces, recipe follows
•3 bay leaves
•1 teaspoon dried thyme
•1 teaspoon hot sauce
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 quarts water
•1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris

For rice:
•3 cups water
•1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•2 cups long-grain rice
•1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the vegetable oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pickled pork, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.

Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking the beans. Place the water into an electric kettle and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil place the butter into a 3-quart saucepan, set over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble, add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the water over the rice and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the beans over the rice.

Pickled Pork:
•2 cups water
•1 cup apple cider vinegar
•1/4 cup kosher salt
•6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
•2 tablespoons sugar
•2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
•2 tablespoons hot sauce
•1 tablespoon celery seed
•1 bay leaf
•1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
•8 ounces ice
•1 1/2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes

Combine all of the ingredients except the ice and the pork in a 2-quart non-reactive saucepan, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the ice and stir. Place the pork into a 1-gallon zip top bag and add the cooled pickling liquid. Remove as much air as possible; seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, turning the bag occasionally. Use within 2 weeks or remove from the pork from the brine and freeze.

Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds


  1. Pickled Pork Tang! Jalapeno Cooking Wine! My palette is activated! Nice LC background! Chopping board?

  2. Thanks Eva! Indeed, the background is a chopping board. I thought it was time to spruce the place up a bit, and I finally had time to do it.

  3. Get it 'spruce' the place up! Well, it looks great. Natural.

  4. Thanks again! Love the pun! I was being clever without even realizing it.

  5. Chopping block countertops, now THAT's class! If I could design my own kitchen.....

  6. p.s. We should look into the origin of the expression: 'to spruce up'

  7. Oh Eva, how I long for my own chopping block countertop. I've told Valerie it is a must if we ever redesign our kitchen.

    As for the origin of 'spruce up,' this is what I found:

    By the way, I love looking up origins and meanings of different sayings. Good idea!



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