Total cooking time: 1 hour: 20 minutes prep; 40 actual cooking
· 1 quart chicken stock (NOTE: I use Aldi’s “Fit and Active” brand because it is low sodium, fat free and contains no MSG or Gluten.)
· 1 ½ cups brown rice
· 3 stalks of chopped celery
· 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
· 1 cup chopped colored (red, yellow, orange) sweet peppers
· ½ stick (4 tablespoons) real butter – can substitute soy spread for dairy-free diets
· 1 can of drained, dark red kidney beans
· 1 pound diced smoked sausage (NOTE: Andouille preferred; but, you can substitute lean, top-quality, smoked Polish sausage. Those who are gluten-free will need to ensure the sausage contains no wheat-based binders.)
· 8 ounces cooked, thawed salad shrimp. (NOTE: Our family prefers a brand that uses wild caught Oregon shrimp – 4 oz. package; about $2.99/package at Schnucks. The taste is more natural and the price is worth it.)
· 1-2 tablespoons “Slap Yo Mama” Cajun spice. (HINT: Use less spice if you use Andouille; use more spice if you substitute another smoked sausage or you just like the heat.)
· Heat the stock: In a very large pot – one that has a good lid– place the entire quart of chicken broth, and turn the heat on HIGH.
· Stir in the brown rice: After the stock comes to a boil, add the rice and continue cooking the mixture until it reaches a second boil.
· Caramelize the veggies: While the stock and broth are heating, sauté the butter, onion, celery and peppers in a large frying pan until the veggies are caramelized. STIR FREQUENTLY! (HINT: If your veggies get dry while they are caramelizing, do NOT add any more butter. Deglaze the pan with a ladle or two of the heating chicken broth and continue cooking until the veggies are soft.)
· Add the caramelized veggies to the rice/broth and stir.
· Add the red beans: Drain the beans and rinse thoroughly; then add them to the pan.
· Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Make sure you place the lid on the pan and check it every 5-10 minutes, stirring the mixture every time you check it to prevent sticking. You will add the sausage and shrimp just before all of the liquid has evaporated.
· Add the smoked sausage and Cajun spice: Right before the liquid has evaporated, it’s time to add the sausage. Stir in the sausage and 1 tablespoon of the Cajun spice. Stir, then taste. If you feel you want more spice, then add it… Remember: It’s easier to add more spice at the table than to over-spice the dish and find that no one can eat it!)
· Add the shrimp: After you have added the meat/spice, it’s time to add the shrimp. (CAUTION: Shrimp can easily overcook, so the best way to ensure the right temperature and texture is to rinse the frozen shrimp in a colander and WAIT! Then stir the thawed shrimp into the cooked dish, place the lid back on the pan, and let it sit for five minutes. The shrimp will absorb the heat and the spice from the pot.)
· Serve immediately: This is a one-pot dish, but possible side dishes include a green salad or fresh fruit.