Red beans and rice – good food for po’ folks

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

If you are like me, you are scrambling around for inexpensive meals that can feed larger numbers of people because you’re broke. But, you still need to think about nutrition and full bellies. It is not as easy.

Reaching back to my black American roots and hard times from the slave and segregation days, there are foods that my people put on the table that didn’t break the bank. Red beans and rice is one of those meals. You can feed six or seven people with about N$80-$100.

I like it because I can make it when I get home from work and still serve dinner by 6:30 pm or so. The leftovers are good the next day in a food container for my lunch at the office. And if there is still any left after two days, it can be a side dish with another protein and vegetable.

This recipe serves six.

1 pound dry kidney beans (I use the 2 cans of the beans, but drain them and wash off the salt and ‘stuff’ that is in the can)
¼ cup olive oil (cheaper sunflower oil is just as good; my grandmomma used bacon grease saved from breakfast)
1 large onion, chopped in small pieces
1 green bell pepper, chopped roughly
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 stalks celery, chopped (I reduced this to just one stalk diced)
I package of vegetable cup-a-soup (my addition)
6 cups water
2 bay leaves (you must remove these before serving)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (I cut this amount because it gives me heartburn, but if you are into hot stuff, jump on it!)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon dried sage
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
½ kg or about 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced (you can use Russians or any spicy sausage…or no sausage if you cannot afford it. Or, you can use a handful of spiced ground pork or beef)
2 cups cooked long grain white rice

Step 1
Rinse the dry beans, and then soak in a large pot of water overnight. *I don’t have that kind of time, which is why I used the canned kidney or ‘red’ beans.

Step 2
In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Cook onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery in olive oil for 2-3 minutes.

Step 3
Rinse beans, and transfer to a large pot with 6 cups water. Stir cooked vegetables into beans. Season with bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, sage, parsley, and Cajun seasoning. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 2 1/2 hours. (NO, too long. I simmered for about 15 minutes and it was fine. Longer than that and the canned beans turn to mush. Keep the lid on the pot – but if you are using the dried beans, then you DO need the longer time)

Step 4
Stir sausage into beans, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. (No, too long…10 minutes is fine – remember the canned beans will turn into mush if over-cooked!)

Step 5
Meanwhile, prepare the rice or oshifima or pap. You already know how to do that.

*I add the cup-a-soup to the water for my rice. I like rice that has flavour. Also, I add a small portion of green peas to the rice to get more vitamins in the dish

I used for the measurements. I just make the dish by eye, using experience. But, you guys need to get the hang of it first.

Send me a photo of this dish if you try it.

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