Green Beans and Rice: It started as Red Beans and Rice
I had intended to make Red Beans and Rice, a major comfort food from Louisiana, for my wife’s staff meeting. I had already purchased the ham and seasoning vegetables plus cans of small red beans. Then my son in law, Clyde, turned up with about four quarts of delicious homegrown green beans.
There is, in fact, a Cajun green beans and rice dish, called smothered green beans, though I didn’t know it when I started making my dish. I simply made my style of red beans and rice but used cut-up green beans instead of cooked red beans. Same roux, same “holy trinity” of flavoring vegetables, same ham, same Cajun seasoning.
And here it is. It’s pretty tasty. I’ll wait a bit until the weather’s colder and make what I originally intended.
The recipe serves six to eight. Cook the rice separately (see rice cooking in my blog post of 8/8/2019).
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 Poblano pepper or green bell pepper, cored and diced
1-1/4 pound big slice of ham (such as Smithfield), fat removed, meat cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 tablespoon tomato paste or 3 tablespoons ketchup
Low-salt chicken broth or water as needed
2 quarts green beans, tips cut off, beans cut 1-inch long
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning (such as Louisiana brand or Chacheré’s) plus to taste
3 cups cooked short or medium grained rice (1 cup dry rice) for serving
In a heavy pot, cook the flour and oil together over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the roux starts darkening. Stir very frequently until roux darkens to the color of peanut butter. Add the diced vegetables, and stir and fry together for a few minutes until the vegetables start softening. Add the ham, and stir and fry several more minutes.
Add the tomato paste or ketchup, plus enough chicken broth or water to come up just below the surface of the ingredients. Simmer about ten minutes, or until the celery bits are tender. Add the green beans, and a little water, if needed, to keep it quite moist. Simmer, covered, a few minutes, then add Cajun seasoning. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, adding a little water if becoming dry. Taste for salt, and add more Cajun seasoning as need to get the salt to the desired level.
It’s best to let the stew cool and store, refrigerated, then reheat to eat. Spoon the mixture over hot cooked rice. Offer Louisiana style hot sauce as a condiment on the side.