Recipes are made to be broken.
At least that’s what I kept telling myself when I decided to go against the grain while making this New Orleans classic. I’m bracing myself for backlash.
Red Beans and Rice is traditionally made with the following: red beans, trinity (onion, celery, green bell pepper), bay leaf, cajun spices & andouille sausage. Sometimes ham hock, too.
Problem is I don’t mess with andouille sausage. I think it reminds me too much of kielbasa. And I’ve had enough kielbasa growing up to last me 3 lifetimes. With that said, I needed a meaty-smokey replacement. Smoked turkey wings were my answer.
So much flavor.
I promise you won’t even know the andouille sausage is missing. And, heck, you may never make Red Beans & Rice with andouille sausage again. Don’t tell New Orleans.
Unorthodox Red Beans & Rice
- 8 oz dried red beans
- 2 smoked turkey wings or 1 smoked turkey leg
- 1/2 cup bacon, diced
- 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
- 1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 fresh habanero pepper (I used 2 because I’m wild)
- 4 tbsp cajun seasoning (I like Paul Pruhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic)
- couple shakes of hot sauce (Crystal, preferred)
- Soak beans in a large bowl or pot with 8 cups of water, at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain.
- In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until cooked through. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
- Add the celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until soft and slightly golden. Wearing latex gloves, make a few slits in the habanero with a paring knife. Add to the pot.
- Add the smoked turkey wings and cover the pot for 5 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, cooked bacon, red beans, bay leaf and hot sauce. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for two hours over low heat.
- Check the beans. They should be very soft. If they are still slightly firm, cover and cook up to an hour more.
- Once the beans are soft, add the cajun seasoning and simmer an additional 30 minutes.
- At this point, the smoked turkey meat should be falling off the bone. Remove the turkey wings from the pot and set aside to cool.
- Remove one cup of the red bean mixture from the pot and place in a a bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, begin to mash the beans into a puree. Return to the pot and mix. If the mixture is still soupy, increase the heat while stirring constantly, and begin to reduce until it is a stew-like consistency,
- Separate the turkey meat from skin and bones. Shred the meat and add back to the pot.
- Check for seasoning, adding additional hot sauce or cajun seasoning, as needed.
- Serve over white rice.
*The addition of bacon in this recipe is for additional smokey flavor. Bacon can be left out if you would like this dish to be pork-free. It will still have the smokey taste you find in red beans & rice.