New Orleans Red Beans and Rice with Pickled Peppers & Southern Cornbread

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Mom, this one’s for you! Beans & Rice are pretty great for many reasons. 1. They are simple to make. 2. They are inexpensive to make. 3. They are a great way to sneak in leftover things from the fridge. 4. They are hearty & filling. 5. They give you an excuse to make cornbread. Beans & Rice are one of my mom’s favorite things to eat, and I think she would love these! The bacon gives the beans a warm, smoky flavor, and the pickled jalapenos and peppadews bring out a piquant flavor that keeps the dish from being too one-dimensional, like many bean dishes can be. If you prep everything first, (I always prep 1st! It makes everything so much easier and seamless once you start cooking) this meal really only takes about 20 minutes to make. I served this over red rice, but any rice would be fine. White, brown, even a medley (I love Lundberg Wild Blend). And of course, cornbread. What are beans & rice without cornbread? (See bottom of post for my favorite Southern cornbread recipe)

adapted from: Food + Wine
serves: 4

4 ounces thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pickled jalapeño (or 8-10 rounds), finely chopped (the more the merrier, to me), plus more for garnish
1/4 cup chopped Peppadew peppers, plus more for garnish
two 15-ounce cans red kidney beans
1 cup chicken broth or stock
salt
freshly ground black pepper
steamed rice, for serving

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In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes.

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Add the onion,  garlic, pickled jalapeño and 1/4 cup of Peppadews and cook, stirring, until softened, 5 to 6 minutes. Make sure to bend down and smell this-it smells amazing.

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Add the beans with their liquid and the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is slightly reduced, about 8 minutes. Season the beans with salt and pepper to taste.

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Ladle the beans over a mound of warm rice. Garnish with more Peppadews and jalapenos and serve immediately.

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Southern Cornbread

adapted from: The New Best Recipe
makes: 8 triangles of cornbread

4 teaspoons bacon drippings, or 1 teaspoon vegetable oil plus 1 tablespoon butter
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup rapidly boiling water
3/4 cup buttermilk (or just add a little squeeze of lemon or 1/2 teaspoon vinegar to whole milk and let sit a bit)
1 large egg, beaten lightly
chopped pickled or fresh jalapeño to taste (optional)

Adjust an oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 F.

Set an 8 inch cast iron skillet in the heating oven.

Measure 1/3 cup of the cornmeal into a medium bowl. Whisk the remaining 2/3 cup cornmeal, the sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda together in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour the boiling water into the 1/3 cup cornmeal; stir to make a stiff mush. Whisk in the buttermilk gradually, breaking up lumps, until smooth, then whisk in the egg and the chopped jalapeño (if using).  When the oven is preheated, stir the dry ingredients into the mush mixture until just moistened. Carefully remove the skillet from the oven and pour the fat (either the bacon drippings or the oil and butter) into the skillet. Swirl skillet to evenly coat the bottom, then quickly pour the batter into the skillet.

Bake until the bread is golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then serve immediately.

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