It really wasn't all that long ago that I was paralyzed by fear every time I thought about cooking proper rice on the stove-top like a regular person. I don't handle failure well. I'm learning, I'm growing (obviously, or I wouldn't be making rice!), but it's a process. I generally stick to doing things I know I do well, things I've already succeeded at. Shells were made to be broken out of, I think. My little comfort zone is oh-so-silly. What's the worst that could happen? I try making rice on the stove-top, it doesn't turn out and I wasted a tiny bit of very inexpensive food and a minuscule amount of time. I'm done hanging out in my silly little shell.
Red beans and rice, here I come.
I found a set of uber-simple directions for cooking rice on The Kitchn (goodness gracious, their how-tos are a life-saver!) and decided to take some risks. I know I can't be the only person who has relied on instant rice or a rice-cooker and hasn't got a clue what they're doing, so here are those simple directions for making perfect white rice:
For every cup of white rice, use 2 cups of H2O.
Put water on to boil with a little bit of salt and butter. While that's heating up, rinse your rice until the water runs clear. Once water is boiling, add in rice and bring back up to a boil. Cover the pot, turn the heat down to low and cook for 18 to 25 min. DO NOT lift the lid until the first check at 18 minutes. That steam is important, yo. Let it do its thing. and...
Voila! Awesome rice. For this recipe you'll need 2 cups of white rice.
Now it's time to get down to the nitty-gritty of Red Beans & Rice. This recipe is adapted from the Mexican Red Beans and Rice recipe on page 188 of The 12 Best Foods Cookbook. While my rice is cooking I prepare my veggies and spices. What you need:
a few large cloves of garlic
1 green pepper
1/2 a red onion
Also pull a can of diced tomatoes and a can of kidney beans out of the cupboard. You're going to need them.
Any time I need minced garlic, I pull out my trusty Garlic Zoom! I don't own a lot of kitchen "tools". I think slap-chops are stupid and The Silver Bullet is kind of useless, but if the world were to end tomorrow I'd truly miss my garlic zoom: It's super awesome. Everyone should own one, especially with how inexpensive they are! I bought mine at the little kitchen store downtown for $10 (I may link to Amazon for all of these things, but seriously, support your local mom & pop shops whenever you can).
So yes... moving right along... get those veggies chopped up and ready to go. I used a little less onion than the recipe called for (they wanted AN ENTIRE ONION in there. Overkill, guys), but quite liked how it turned out, so you really don't need a whole onion.
Saute the onion and green pepper in some oil over medium-high heat for 4 or 5 minutes, until the onions start to go translucent on you. Then add in the garlic and cook for another minute or 2. Time for spices! One teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (I didn't level off the measuring spoon and I really wish I had - WAY spicy. Next time I'm going to do 1/2 teaspoon, not quite full, heh. But if you're adventurous and like things WAY spicy, go for it). Also throw in some black pepper for fun.
Now it's time for a can of diced tomatoes with all of their glorious juice! I used plain, since I felt like enough was already going on in this dish. Simmer that over low, uncovered, for about 10 minutes, until some of the juice has evaporated.
Add in a can of rinsed Red Kidney Beans and cook for a couple more minutes until it's all warmed through and smells amazing.
Time to mix in those 2 cups of rice you cooked earlier and give it all a bunch of good stirs. It's going to take a lot of stirring and mixing, I'm warning you. Stirring is good therapy, as well as chopping. Takes your mind off things and gets your hands moving... just don't lose a finger and you'll be good to go. Let that all mingle and warm for a few more minutes over low/medium heat.
Here it is - the tastiest side dish on earth. Honestly, I think this could stand alone with some tortilla chips or salad, but I put it together with some skewered grilled chicken rubbed in spices.