Thursday, August 25, 2011

Red Beans & Rice with Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread

Here's another "Straight-from-Alton-Brown-no-changes" recipe.

I watch Good Eats all the time, and while I fully admit that he goes WAY overboard on a lot of his recipes, I still feel that his stuff tends to be the "definitive" version of whatever he's making. If nothing else because I know the man researches more than any other cook on Earth. 

I don't mind the extra steps and it's not like I don't have the time to marinate (or in this case "pickle") some pork for a few days. 

His red beans & rice recipe looked awesome when I saw the recipe. I made my Creole Sausage & Black Bean dish again last week, and it made me want to try the red beans and rice dish.

It's a "one pot" dish, with the exception of making the pickling liquid for the pork, so it's really easy to get together. You do have to dice some veggies, but that's kind of to be expected in Creole cuisine.

I'm also making some cornbread based on Alton's recipe, but adding cheese and jalapeños for some more flava.

Red Beans & Rice with Jalapeño Cheese Cornbread

Pickled Pork:
2 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup kosher salt
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon celery seed
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
8 ounces ice
1 1/2 pounds boneless pork butt (shoulder), cut into 2-inch cubes (Whoops, didn't do this. Oh well)

Red Beans:
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces pickled pork, cut into 1-inch pieces, recipe above
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 quarts water
1 pound dry red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris

2 cups water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup creamed corn
1/2 a jalapeño
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil


You're going to let the pork pickle for 3 days, so plan ahead. I started this on Monday morning, planning to have this dish on Thursday night.

It's really simple to throw together the pickle. 

Get your ingredients ready:

Toss everything into a small sauce pan.

Add your liquids and bring to a boil.

Weigh out 8 oz of ice cubes.

When the mixture hits a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.

When the 3 minutes are up, toss in the ice and let the mixture cool.

Smells delicious, too.
Get your pork shoulder into a ziplock bag.  I should have cut this into 2" cubes, per the recipe, but I missed that step. 

Pour in the cooled liquid and squeeze all of the air out.

Store it in a drip proof container of some sort and store in the fridge for 3 days. Flip the bag every day.


On the day you're ready to cook, start by getting a large pot on medium heat and adding 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan.

Add your onions (I had some leftover from this week, so I used half a yellow onion and half a red onion)

Add the celery.

Add the green bell pepper.

Go ahead and add the teaspoon of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until everything softens up considerably. 


Now we can deal with the pork.

This is mine after 3 days:

It's covered in mustard seeds and smells really good. I was surprised how good it smelled. 

Cut off a 12oz piece. 

I'm looking into what to do with the rest of this and will hopefully report back with some ideas soon. Hash maybe?

Cut it into 1" chunks. I tried to get most the mustard seeds off, but a few won't hurt anything, I'm sure.

Your veggies should be ready by now, so go ahead and add the garlic.

Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Add thyme, bay leaves, pork, hot sauce and cayenne pepper (I only used a shake).

Quickly sort through your beans. Make sure there are no stones or other weirdness in there.

Add the beans to the pot.

Add the water and bring to a boil. It'll take about 10 minutes.

Once it reaches a boil, drop the heat to a simmer and cover for 1.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes:

After an hour:

After 1.5 hours:

Now, let it cook, uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

I don't think I let it go hot enough. After I turned up the heat it thickened a lot, so I'd let it go at a strong simmer for those 30-40 minutes.

After that time, look at the thickness and mash a few times if it's not as thick as you'd like. I smashed exactly 10 times. That's it.

Looking good
I let it cook for another 45 minutes because I had the time. It really thickened up and I stirred occasionally, breaking up the pork as I did.

Red beans and Done.
Don't forget to fish out the bay leaves!


Start the rice when you're about 30 minutes out from service.

Put the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Let it start to foam.

Add the rice and salt and toast it for 2-3 minutes.

Get your water into a separate vessel and nuke it until it boils.

Carefully pour it into the rice. It'll bubble up a lot.

Cover, turn the heat to low and let it go for 20-25 minutes.


The cornbread comes together pretty quick.

Start by preheating your oven and sticking a 10" cast iron skillet inside.

Get your dry ingredients together (corn meal, salt, sugar, baking soda, baking powder)

Whisk well to combine.

Get the wet ingredients together (buttermilk, creamed corn, eggs)

Whisk to combine.

Add the dry to the wet. Whisk again. Lightly.

Mince up 1/2 a jalapeño. You could probably do a full one, but I was erring on the side of caution for my daughter.

Seed it with a teaspoon.

Add the jalapeño to the mix.

Add 1/2 a cup of shredded cheddar cheese.

Stir to combine everything. Try not to over-stir.

Now the action.

Pull the cast iron skillet out of the oven. BE CAREFUL, IT'S HOT.

Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan and swirl it around to cover.

Pour in the batter. It'll sputter. Be quick about it.

Toss it in the oven for 20 minutes.


When your rice is done, your corn bread should be done.


 Serve the red beans with the rice and a side of corn bread, slathered with butter.

Overall, this was great. VERY filling. It tasted as authentic as any red beans and rice as I've ever had. The beans and pork played so well with each other, and one can see why this meal has been around for so long.

The cornbread was outstanding in the cast iron skillet. the crust formed on the bottom was awesome. My wife described it as tasting like deep dish pizza crust, and that's good stuff.

My daughter loved it and I actually shook on some hot sauce to up the heat a bit. I thought it a was fantastic, classic dish.


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