Kate's Red Beans and Rice
1 lb. dry red kidney beans, rinsed and sorted
6 c. water
5 regular bouillon cubes or 1 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. chicken base
1/4 lb. smoked sausage (Andouille sausage if you can find it), quartered and cut into thin slices. You can also use a large, meaty ham bone.
1 onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. Cajun or Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's is the best; omit this if using Andouille sausage)
3/4 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. coriander
3/4 tsp. oregano
1/8-1/4 tsp. cinnamon (sounds weird, but DON'T leave it out!!!)
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (also omit if using Andouille sausage)
Combine all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low all day. Or you can start on high until it starts to simmer and then switch it to low. Honestly, I think "high" for a shorter period works better, but that's just me...
When beans are tender, mash about 85-90% of them against the side of the crock pot. Give them a taste and add any extra seasonings if you need to, particularly more Tony's or salt and pepper. Replace lid and set heat to "low." Or off. Whatever. It's pretty hard to screw stuff up in the crockpot. In a medium saucepan, bring 4 c. water, 1 Tbsp. white vinegar, and 2 c. of white rice to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and steam for 20 minutes.
Now...this may be heresy to people who grew up eating red beans and rice, but I prefer it with the beans on bottom and the rice on top. I just think it's prettier. And don't think I haven't gotten dirty looks for not putting the beans on top; what can I say, I'm a sassy girl with a rebellious streak and a Yankee accent who knows what she likes! I also like to garnish it with some green onions for color and a little extra flavor.
Serves about 8, with 1 c. beans and 1/2 c. rice per person.