No winter? No matter.

February 20, 2017

Pure wintertime comfort. Works well in mild weather, too.

Pure wintertime comfort. Works well in mild weather, too.

I’ve been just a tad put out with this winter. Because no matter how much I dislike cold weather, it DOES go well with kind of cooking I love to do — soups, stews, braises, long, slow cooking of comfort food that warms you from the inside out, body and soul.

I made the most of that during the small cold snap that we had. We had vegetable soup, we had carbonnades a la flamande, we had pot roast. We thoroughly enjoyed all of the above.

So what did we have this past Saturday, when the temp was in the 70s?

Why, we had red beans and rice. Which, due in part to the dearth of cold weather, we have not had all winter. But Child B was here, and RB&R is Child B’s favorite meal, or one of them. So, springlike weather be damned, we would cook red beans and rice.

This plan almost came to naught on two pantry/fridge failings. One, when I went to the cabinet to get out a bag of red beans, I found no red beans. I found pinto beans, cranberry beans, several different varieties of white beans, but I found no Domingo Rojo beans (the Rancho Gordo variety I have come to love).

I was distraught. But then I found most of a pound of Scarlet Runner beans. Those are red, as the name would indicate. They’re big. They cook up about a third bigger than a kidney bean. And they’re wonderfully meaty and creamy, and I need to order some more of them, along with the Domingo Rojo, just as soon as I can.

So I set the Scarlet Runners in water to soak overnight, and went on about my business.

Second, I had no andouille sausage. I know I bought andouille sausage, because the last time I was going to make RB&R, I wound up not doing so, because I had no andouille sausage, so I put it on my grocery list and bought some. I am certain of this.

But I’ll be damned if I can find it.

What I DID have was some smoked chorizo. That, I figured, would do.

I sauteed a diced onion and some garlic. I threw in the chorizo. I diced up some ham, which had been vac-sealed and frozen since Easter of 2015, and I diced up some cooked chicken, which had been vac-sealed and frozen since a week and a half ago. All that went in, plus a pint of chicken stock, plus some water, and the soaked, drained beans. That all cooked at high pressure in the Instant Pot for 45 minutes.

When I check, the beans were a little more al dente than I wanted, which was OK, because I had plenty of time yet. I dumped in a pint of home-canned tomatoes, a can of RoTel, added a bay leaf, added about another pint of water because the beans had gotten dry, and set it to slow-cook on high for much of the rest of the day.

(Note: You CANNOT cook this too much. You just can’t.)

(Note II: You want to cook your beans first, THEN add your tomatoes or any other acidic ingredient. Dry beans will NEVER freakin’ get tender cooked in an acidic liquid. I know this from trying to make Boston baked beans. Didn’t work. Not worth a diddly-damn.)

Cooked some rice, and called it done. Well, except for cooking some cornbread.

As this dinner was in honor of Child B, who has celiac disease, the cornbread needed to be gluten-free. I didn’t feel like firing up the oven again, so I made what I grew up calling hoecakes, except instead of making them with cornmeal mix, I made them with a mixture of  cornmeal and masarepa, or cooked corn flour. Added more oil than I meant to, and a couple of eggs to help it hang together, a little salt. Fried them in some canola oil.

Kids both said it was the best cornbread I’d made in ages. I think I often tend to cut the oil too short. Cornbread is not, and should not be, a low-fat food.

Of course, I let Child B get out of the house and en route home this morning without the quart of red beans I’d frozen for her. Oh, well. They’ll keep in the freezer, and she can retrieve them next time she’s down or I’m up that way.

I'll give up comfort food for days like this with the babies!

I’ll give up comfort food for days like this with the babies!

Meanwhile, the 70s-and-sunny weekend was absolutely perfect for taking AGCs 1 and 3 to the park, where we had popsicles, which they enjoyed MUCH more than KayKay’s red beans and rice. Oh, well. They’ve got plenty of time to grow into that.

In any event, the long-range weather forecast indicates we’re through with winter, so if you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em are gonna get any cold-weather comfort food, you’d best be getting it cooked in the next few weeks.




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