It’s all in the sauce. It may sound crazy, but every major holiday all I want is my dad’s flavorful beans and rice. It’s as close to a steak as I’m going to get as a vegetarian. The beans take on the flavor of all the ingredients that slowly simmer in the sauce. My dad originally made his sauce with bacon, which adds a big hit of flavor. When I became a vegetarian, it took a lot of trial and error to get that flavor back. I asked my dad years ago for the recipe and he said there really isn’t one… just a little of this, and a little of that. I’ve been experimenting with different ways to make it my own for 10 years. It is all about intuition and changing it for your taste buds. Here’s my interpretation of my family’s beans and rice.
Garlic (I love garlic so I use 6-7 cloves)
Vegetable stock (optional)
Chili pepper (optional)
Pinto or Kidney beans
Bacon (for the Carnivoress) (optional)
Make it your own (I’ve added tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, carrots, and garbanzo beans on separate occasions).
Chop the green peppers, onions, and garlic.
If you are a carnivore, cut the bacon into small pieces. Add vegetable oil to a pan and cook the bacon until it is about half cooked (not crispy).
Add the veggies to the pan and cook them until they are slightly browned or the bacon is crispy. You want to avoid burning the bacon.
Add salt and pepper to your liking. If you used bacon you will not need as much salt. Chili pepper is also an option for added heat.
Drain Pinto or Kidney beans and add to the pan. If you like other veggies like mushrooms or tomatoes, you can add them at this point.
Add a can of tomato sauce.
Let the sauce simmer for at least 30 minutes. I usually aim for 45 minutes. I add vegetable stock as the sauce is cooking and reducing. If you don’t have vegetable stock, water works just as well. I like my beans saucy, but for a thicker mixture, simply add less liquid as it cooks. Stir frequently during this time.
You should start cooking your rice during this time. I grew up eating Uncle Ben’s, so that’s all I use. Rice is a nice balance, since the sauce has so much flavor. Not much to do here except follow the directions on the packaging.
I serve the beans on top of the rice, but you’ll want to avoid mixing everything together since keeping the beans and rice separate will give you more options for reheating and using the leftovers.
My dad always makes his beans and rice with pork chops or chicken.