As if it’s not obvious by now, I love to cook. It is so satisfying to spend time in the kitchen putting a little love and effort into making a meal and then having everyone who eats it love it. When they don’t like it, well, that just pretty well sucks. I dislike it immensely when I make something and it doesn’t turn out good or no one likes it. It seems easy to find great recipes, but not always to find ones that I can manipulate to make something that everyone in my house will eat. This is why I tend to just make things up as I go most of the time.
A few months ago I had some extra cans of red beans in the cabinet from a sale I had found. I set them on the counter and then starting digging around in the fridge, freezer and pantry to see what kind of meal I could come up with. I found some smoked beef sausage amongst some other random things and decided to throw together a big pot of goody goodness. I used about a pound and a half of smoked sausage and I felt like it was a little on the salty side, even when I didn’t add extra salt. It was really delicious, but just a little salty. So, when I made another pot of this over the weekend, I decided that I was going to add this chicken sausage in with a package of the beef to balance it out a little bit.
Mixing the two of these together was even better than the first time I made it will the all beef sausage. The flavors were amazing and even without adding any extra salt, the flavor was perfect. You could use all chicken if you wanted to cut down on your fat content.
My two girl friends that I spend most of my time with have caused me to get creative with my cooking. Vicki is a vegetarian, so when she is eating here I leave out the meat until what I am cooking is nearly finished, and then scoop her out a bowl/plate. This way she gets the meatless version but still gets to enjoy what we are having. Jenny is on a gluten free diet, so I have to be very cautious of what I am cooking with. This is one reason I switched to Better Than Bouillon products, which you can read about here. At first I thought it would be very hard to have a GF diet, but you just have to get a little more creative. I have been able to come up with several recipes that are very tasty that she can enjoy with us!
** For the gluten free version, use a gluten free bacon and sausage/chicken product. I searched the internet and found several gluten free varieties that are sold in most grocery stores.
** For the vegetarian version, use a vegetarian version of the bacon and sausage/chicken product. Again, when I searched I found several brands/varieties available.
Smokey Red Beans and Sausage
- 2 tbs butter or oil
- 3 cans of red beans
- ½ lb uncooked bacon
- 1 medium onion
- 1 red pepper
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- ½ – 1 tsp thyme
- 3-4 bay leaves
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 6 tsp chicken Better Than Bouillon (If you do not have this, you will just add 4-5 cups of chicken broth and omit the water)
- 4-5 cups water (4 if you want it thick and 5 if you want it a little more soupy)
- 1 ½ – 2 lbs smoked beef sausage, smoked chicken sausage, or a combination of both
- 1tbs olive oil
Chop up your onion and red pepper.
In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt your butter/oil. Add in the onion, red pepper, garlic, pepper and thyme and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.
While that is cooking, chop up your bacon into bite size pieces.
Stir in the bacon and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes.
If your using using the Better Than Bouillon, place your 6 teaspoons in a bowl and then add in your water and whisk until it is well blended. Then pour your broth into the pot and add your bay leaves, give it a good stir, reduce the heat to low, and cover.
While this is simmering, cut your sausage in half lengthwise and brush each piece with olive oil on both sides.
Turn on your grill to medium high and cook your sausage for about 3-4 minutes per side.
You could skip this step if you wanted to, but I just like the way the grill brings out the flavor in this stuff. Remove from the grill and cut them all into bite sized pieces.
Add this to your soup and stir it again. Cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour. I serve this over rice.