Sunday, October 24, 2010

slow cooker red beans and rice

I made this red beans and rice at some time last week.  I'm trying to make more dishes with dry beans to better learn how to use them.  I'd like to have more vegetarian days cooking and beans are a great source of protein and fiber.  I just don't know how to make them well.  I tried this recipe I found at crockpot 365.  It was only OK.  I liked the flavor ok.  It was a bit spicy for my liking, and I wished that the coconut flavor was just a touch stronger.  Actually I think that the spiciness just distracted from the coconut for me.    I was expecting a stronger coconut, and less bite.    I also didn't like the rice cooking with the beans.  By the time the beans were done the rice was more like rice pudding than anything else.  While I love rice pudding, that only added to my expectation of a strong coconut flavor and left me expecting sweetness, not spiciness.
I do however like the idea of this meal which is why I am posting it.  I liked the coconut flavor with the lime, and I liked the red beans and rice, but I would probably cook the beans in the slow cooker in the chicken broth on high for a few hours, then add the rice and coconut milk later.  I also left out the salt, thinking that it would be salty enough with the chicken stock, but it needed it.  I added it close to the end when I added a bit more water because the beans were not done.  I also read up on crockpot 365 that she doesn 't like the crockpot I own because it has a couple of wholes in the top where a spoon can clip to the top of it.  I was actually happy with it because it is the first one I have had in a while that didn't cook too hot, but apparently too much liquid can steam out of the wholes.  I'm thinking maybe this could have contributed to the beans not being done on time, and my having to add extra liquid.   Last time I used it I shoved toothpicks in the holes to lessen the escaping steam.  With those modifications and less red pepper I think I would really like this meal.
Recap of my for next time ideas
  • block holes in my crock pot's lid with toothpicks
  • start beans in chicken broth, onions, garlic and red pepper flakes early in the morning
  • add rice, coconut milk, lime juice and salt after the beans are starting to soften in the afternoon
  • use less red pepper flakes - 1/4-1/2 teaspoon  

  • 1 cup dried small red beans 
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I'd use less next time.)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can coconut milk (full fat is best.  If using the light, add a couple drops of coconut extract- I may actually add a couple of drops of coconut extract even with full fat.)
  • 3 cups chicken broth (I used stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups long grain basmati white rice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 limes (original recipe had these cut in wedges as an option, but I squeezed them in when I added extra liquid.)
  1. Place sorted beans in a 4 quart slow cooker.  Cover with water and soak overnight.  In the morning, drain the water and place beans in a large pot of fresh water.  Boil rapidly on the stovetop for at least 10 minutes before draining and placing in the crockpot.  click here to see the good reason why.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth.  Stir in rice and salt.  Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until beans are bite tender.  Before eating, squeeze on a bit of lime juice.  
Those are the directions from 365 crockpot.  She apparently had better luck than me, but she knows her crock pot.  I did find out a lot of good information on her site and recommend stopping by and reading it if you ever had any questions about crock pots.  I also read about her flops and found them quite amusing.  Definitely a site worth checking out.
As we ate this I give it only 2.5 star.  It was fine, but could have been better.  My changes for next time are above.

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