This week I visited, and “ranted” a bit, on the $30.00 Eatocracy Challenge; I’m afraid I just can’t keep my mouth shut. I’d be interested in your views – just click the link to take a peek.
The good news is, several people mentioned Red Beans and Rice, one of our favorite meals here at our house, budget or no, and sausage is on sale at Rainbow this week. I’ve found my inspiration for this week’s meal, and can bring it in for $2.57 for 8 servings.
Several years ago, my son and I had Red Beans and Rice in New Orleans, and I have a friend who is a very inspired cook who serves them often at his house, and we love this dish. When my son was young he was complaining to his teacher at conference about the fact we have “no food” in the house – he was referring to junk food, but the counselor just looked at him, and knowing I loved to cook, said, “Well it’s not like you’re eating beans and rice.” My son and I both started laughing, because that is EXACTLY what we had the night before and were planning on having it again that night; leftover it’s even better.
We finally settled in on a favorite family recipe adapted from Cook’s Country magazine…perhaps a more “Northern” version than some, because I generally use whatever sausage I can find a good deal on here in Minnesota, whether it’s smoked sausage or kielbasa. I do stay away from turkey sausage for this dish. I think it tends to lend an ‘off’ flavor.
Recipe: Red Beans & Rice, 8 Servings (generous)
- 4 slices bacon, chopped
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped, optional
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh oregano or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme or 1/4 teaspoon dried
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 4 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- 1 pound red beans, rinsed (I like the small beans, not kidney, if available)
- 7 cups chicken broth
- 7 cups water
- 1/2 pound andouille sausage, or smoked sausage or kielbasa
- 6 cups cooked rice
- hot sauce
- chili relish (optional – this has been very difficult to find in the north in recent years)
In a dutch oven, preferably a heavy one, cook bacon till lightly browned. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently till soft. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds longer.
Add the rest of ingredients up to the sausage, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a vigorous simmer (should be steaming and several bubbles breaking he surface) and cook, uncovered, stirring now and then till the beans are soft and most of he liquid is absorbed, about 2 1/2 hours. Stir in sausage and cook till liquid is thick and creamy, about 30 minutes. (These cooking times are recommended by Cook’s Country; I tend to add my sausage in about 1/2 hour earlier.)
Serve over the rice with the hot sauce and/or chile sauce passed as a condiment.
Money & Time Saving Strategies: Cost $2.57/3.17 for the meal. (The variance comes from today’s price on the beans as opposed to the sale price. Hope you’ve stocked up.)
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
Red Beans & Rice freezes beautifully, by the way!
- Onions: 99 cents for three pounds on Rainbow’s special, onions are generally the least expensive in the fall. I cook with them all year ’round, but I’ll generally try to take advantage of the low cost and make more dishes that feature onions, especially one of my favorites, onion soup. Cost for this recipe, around 4 1/2 cents.
- Celery: 49 cents for a pound sleeve at my store as a “Price Cap” item through December. My cost: $.07 doubled to .14 because I added an extra stalk.
- Garlic: Cheap this time of year, but will go up in price in the late winter and early spring months. Sometimes I’ll really cheap out and buy a jar, but I bought a head for about 90 cents; four cloves put me back around an estimated 10 cents.
- Beans: I stock up around the times when dried beans and peas are on sale, usually 89 to 99 cents a pound, generally after the major holidays, and especially around any holiday when ham is often served. Easter, Christmas and New Years come to mind. Specials on these aren’t always advertised, so it never hurts to take a peek down the aisle when you’re shopping. Take a peek in the ethnic aisle, or market as ell; there is quite a big difference in pricing. If you bought this week, you’d pay $1.49, I believe. I used my $.89 bag.
- Sausage: Often on sale in the fall months with, generally, a plethora of coupons, I’ll stock up and freeze. This week Farmland has one pound packages on sale for $3.50, but using a doubled coupon on Wednesday or Saturday, I’ll be able to buy for $2.00, and use 1/2 in this recipe. My cost $1.00.
- Bacon: I’ve used the last of my cheap bacon, and I don’t see it coming down to near my buy price. When it does reach my buy price, I stock up as much as possible and freeze. I do save the drippings in my fridge when I cook bacon, so rather than using oil in the recipe, I sautéed my veggies in about a tablespoon of the drippings. *gasp* you may say, but keep in mind that I watch my cholesterol very closely, and avoid trans fat like the plague. By using the drippings only in this recipe, I’ve actually lost the calories from the bacon itself, yet still kept the flavor. Cost: 0
- Chicken Broth: I buy a lot of whole chicken and chicken breasts on the bone; I’ll save the carcass from the whole, and I’ll slice off the meat and use the bones from the breasts for stock. I also save the leftover tops and bottoms and peelings of vegetables to us in the stock as well. Since I could have very well thrown those items away, I’ll call the cost: 0
- Green Pepper: A part of the ‘trinity’ so famous in New Orleans cooking. Ours this week were awful, and $1.99 each…I’m afraid I’ll just have to make a judgement call and omit. I’ll add in an extra celery stalk.
- I’m a very careful spice shopper; I’ll call this 10 cents.
- Rice: Hope you’ve picked up, or are going to pick up the Riceland rice that’s on sale for $1.19 and used the 50 cent coupon doubled. Your cost .19
- I still probably could have gotten the pepper in for under the total cost of the meal, but they really did NOT look good, and I couldn’t justify it.
Nutrition: This might be a day you want to sneak a lot of green/yellow vegetables in elsewhere.
Per Serving: 494 Calories; 7g Fat (12.7% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 78g Carbohydrate; 15g Dietary Fiber; 13mg Cholesterol; 672mg Sodium. Exchanges: 5 Grain(Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 1 Fat.
Put your own spin on it: Vary the sausage, as I did, and vary or increase the vegetables. You can also throw in a ham hock, taso, or other ingredients to up the flavor quotient and add to the creaminess of the dish.
My Payoff - A filling, hearty, very cost-effective meal with plenty of leftovers. I actually like to put a serving of rice covered with a serving of beans and freeze in a tupperware for lunches, before it’ wolfed down.
- Red beans and rice & Wash Day (edibletimes.com)
- Meatless Monday: Vegetarian Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice (thegreenists.com)