What would Sunday lunch on the islands be without either Callaloo or stewed red beans as part of this cherished meal? A time when families get together to share good food, thoughts and good times after a long and hectic week. Add in some stewed chicken and macaroni pie and you’re set to have one of those meals that takes you back to places you’ve not been to in years… for me it’s like traveling back in time to a happier place. Since I’m the only one who enjoy this dish in our household, I tend to make a fairly big batch (enough for about 8 people) and freeze the leftovers in freeze containers for future use. Packaged well, they can last up to 3 months without getting freezer burned. Then all I do is take it out of the freezer and allow to thaw and reheat on very gentle heat and I’m set for another awesome meal.
I must mention a couple things before we get to the actual recipe. 1. Try to get the sort of pinkish colour beans, as it cooks much faster than the dark red version. 2. You’ll notice that it does take a while to cook, but you can save on time by cooking in a pressure cooker if you wish. Just keep checking to see when the beans are tender as I don’t know how long it would take in the pressure cooker.
3 cups of red kidney beans (dry)
3 cloves garlic
2 sprigs thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
dash black pepper
hot pepper (as much as you like) I used a small habanero
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 onion sliced
2 carrots (diced) optional
1 bell pepper (sweet pepper) diced – optional
water (see in directions)
1 teaspoon Caribbean style “browning”
2 table spoon chopped shado beni or cilantro
1 scallion (diced thin)
1/2 tablespoon Golden Ray butter (optional, but adds that true island flavour so I could not leave this out)
* The “optional” ingredients mentioned above were not used in my recipe today, but it does add a bit more flavour and body to the dish so I do recommend using them.
For best results I recommend soaking the dry beans overnight in water, but before you do so quickly go through the beans to check to see that there are no foreign objects within the beans. In the past I’ve found little pebbles and twigs that had to be removed. Then wash the beans with running water and place in a fairly deep bowl. Now cover with water so all the beans are under water and allow to soak on the kitchen counter overnight.
The next step is to pour the beans and water it’s been soaking in, into a deep pot and add some more water so it’s covered by at least 2 inches of water. Then add the salt, black pepper, hot pepper, garlic (whole.. it will melt away as it cooks) and sprigs of thyme to the pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a gentle simmer, with the pot covered.Allow this to cook for about 1.5 to 2 hours or until the beans are plump and tender. BTW… If you’re adding the carrots and bell peppers to the dish, this is when you add it as well.
*TIP! After the beans are tender you can remove the sprigs of thyme from the pot and discard.
Since I used the sort of pinkish coloured beans I mentioned above, my beans were tender in about 70 minutes or so. The final step is to now heat the oil in another deep pot and add the sliced onion and cook for a couple minutes (until the edges start going golden). Using some care… take a large spoon and start adding the now tender beans to the pot with the cooked onions. The idea is to pour everything into the pot with the onions. Remember you’re adding liquid to a pot with heated oil, so please be careful. Stir this around a bit and now add the “browning” as this gives it a sort of nutty caramel flavour and it also adds a lovely rich colour to the overall dish. Then I add the scallion, shado beni or cilantro and the Goldenray butter to the pot.
The last thing you do is to get a “swizzle stick” or whisk (don’t use one of those electric ones) and whisk everything a bit so some of the beans break up and form a sort of creamy consistency (but remember to not over crush the beans… you still want to see whole beans). If you find that it’s overly thick, feel free to add some water and if it’s too thin, turn up the heat and thicken it up a bit. It should be almost the consistency of a thick soup or chili.
From the time you add the cooked beans to the pot, it will take about 10 minutes on medium heat to finish cooking.
In the pick above I have a wonderful plate of the red beans, with long grain brown rice, stew chicken and a couple slices of zaboca (avocado) on the side. Just need some plantains and I’d be in heaven.
I’m sure there are different ways of making this dish, but this is a simplified version that’s just as tasty as any you’d find on a table for Sunday lunch on the islands. Before I go I’d like to remind you to leave me your comments (there’s no need to register..simply add you comments) in the area provided below and don’t forget to join our Facebook fan page. Remember, it’s my goal to have the largest FB fan page dedicated to the culinary culture of the islands and I can’t do it without YOU!
TIP! Before I leave… remember that this will thicken up with it cools down, so if it looks a bit runny when it’s still hot, don’t thicken.. it will have a great consistency when it cools down a bit.