I didn’t know what Cajun food really was until I was over 30 and a new restaurant opened up where I was living. That’s when I discovered the joys of jambalaya, gumbo, po’ boys, and red beans and rice, and I learned that I didn’t like okra.
Until then all I knew about Cajun food was from music – Steely Dan made mention of red beans and rice for a quarter, in the French quarter of New Orleans, and of course Hank Williams had talked about crawfish and file gumbo, and I relished the exotic words not knowing what the food really tasted like. When I finally got to sample good Cajun food, I knew I’d found another favorite cuisine. For some reason, it’s hard to find a good Cajun restaurant so I came up with some of my own recipes. This is an easy one.
basic ingredients: smoked or andouille sausages, garlic, onion, celery, green pepper, can of diced tomatoes, red beans, rice, Cajun spices.
optional ingredients: use other color peppers if desired, add shrimp and/or chicken.
how to make it: Take a deep skillet and pour in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Heat the oil, then put in a cup of dry rice. Add some salt and Cajun seasoning. While the rice is frying, open the tomatoes and pour the juice into a measuring cup. Add enough water to make 2 cups of liquid. When the rice has browned slightly, add the liquid, turn down the heat to the minimum, and cover tightly. Turn off after 15 minutes or so and let it sit for 10 minutes. Cut the smoked sausages at an angle so there is a larger surface for browning. Chop a small onion, a few cloves of fresh garlic, a stalk of celery, and a green pepper. After the rice is done, remove it to a bowl and add some more olive oil to the skillet. Brown the sausage pieces, add the chopped vegetables and stir fry until the veggies are just done. Add the tomatoes and the red beans and stir. Add Cajun spice to your taste, then stir in the rice and let it all cook together on low heat for 15 minutes. Serve with cornbread and butter.
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