Black Beans & Sausage over Rice
In our efforts to become more self sufficient while cutting costs, we have been experimenting with ways to home prepare and dry beans, vegetables and other products so that they are durable, easily transported, easily prepared, convenient and tasty. Sometimes, we use commercial products to augment our own efforts. This is more a matter of convenience than of necessity as nearly all of these products could be (and probably are), done at home.
After months of trial and error, I think we are getting close to our goal.
We started by trying to partially cook dried bean combinations and then re-hydrating and cooking them. The results were not bad, but less than optimal. Some of the beans never seemed to get tender enough. Our last batch or two have been much better, with good taste, good texture, and very short preparation time.
Rather than partially cooking the beans, we have found that fully cooking them to the point of tenderness but not breaking apart, results in the best final product. Once your beans are fully cooked but still have structure, drain them and distribute them in a shallow layer on a food dehydrator and dry for 12 – 24 hours.
If you want to pre-spice your beans, you can do so during the cooking process or you can leave them plain as we did, for variety later.
Once the beans are fully dried, you can preserve them in freezer bags, jars, or vacuum bags depending on your long term preservation and usage strategies.
To use your carefully dried and preserved beans, all you really need to do is add some boiling water and let them sit for 10 or 15 minutes. This will provide a basic bean dish without much effort, and also without much taste or character. After all, at this point unless you added spices earlier, it is just beans.
To embellish your beans while they are re-hydrating, follow the recipe below, feeling free to spice and season to your taste.
Black Beans with sausage over rice
For this recipe, you can approach it from 2 ways, a single pan dish or a two pan dish. At home, I usually use 2 pans. On the boat, 1 pan means less dishes. Either way, the results are tasty and nutritious.
1 Lb Linguica (Portuguese), or Italian (hot or mild) sausage.
3 C. water or chicken broth*
1 1/2 – 2 C. cooked dried beans
Salt & Pepper to taste.
If doing the 2 pot method, brown the sausage, (and if fresh, – onions garlic, etc..), add water or broth at the ratio of 1 C beans to 2 C water or broth and simmer, adding spices as desired. Cook rice separately according to directions, and serve the beans over the rice.
For the 1 pot method, cook the sausage, onions, garlic, etc…, add liquid*, add rice, simmer for 15 to 20 minutes and then the cooked, dried beans. Simmer for an additional 10 or 15 minutes. You could use “Minute Rice” rather than raw rice to reduce the cooking time.
This recipe will be nutritious and tasty. As I never seem able to follow an exact recipe, my preferred methods would be varied depending on my taste at the moment and the ingredients available. The addition of other vegetables, spices and seasonings to taste can make this dish unique to your own tastes.
*If adding rice on the 1 pot method, add liquid at the ration of 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice. Adjust liquid as needed to get the consistency you prefer.
You could saute’ some onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil prior to dropping in the sausage. A splash of Sherry or Madeira wine wouldn’t hurt it a bit. I like to add some dehydrated soup vegetables, dehydrated garlic/pepper seasoning, dehydrated onions, and tomato powder to the mix.
Every individual’s taste is unique and while I can give a general direction, I would encourage all cooks to be bold, inventive and brave. While I own a lot of cook books, I seldom follow a recipe. I view my cookbooks as general guides and idea places. With a bit of experience and experimentation, you can do your own thing every time you enter the kitchen or galley.