When you have to feed a large family, and have to cook with several little ones underfoot, easy one-dish meals are your best friend. Just thought I’d share one of our house favorites, since we are having it tonight and my house is full of the yummy smell. It’s easy and it’s enough to feed my family of 7 (usually with enough leftover to send with my husband for lunch the next day)! This is my own recipe, one of those meals that was born out of desperation and the scraps left in the cupboards! Enjoy!
Italian Rice & Beans with Sweet Sausage
2 lbs. Sweet Italian Sausage
1 bag dry beans (your choice, I like half Northern White and half Red Kidney mixed)
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 large tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1 large onion
6 cups beef stock
2 bay leaves
Break out the crock pot first thing in the morning, fill it with about 6 cups beef stock or water with bullion and set it to high. Add bay leaves and a generous pinch of white pepper and several of the sea salt. Chop your onion and garlic, add. Chop your herbs and add. Of course you can also use dried basil and parsley, but you’ll have to use it to taste because I just eyeball about a handful of fresh leaves each!
You can use 2 cans of beans if you like, but I prefer the taste of the dry better – anything in a can always tastes like a can to me, plus dry is cheaper! You can soak the dry beans overnight or put them in a pot with cold water, bring to a boil then remove from heat and let stand covered for about 2 hours. There are many different opinions on which way is better regarding taste and time management, but I never really saw a difference. One thing I have noted over the years is that dry beans take longer to cook when you add salt so when soaking or boiling them just use plain water.
While the beans are steeping cook the rice. I go back to the crock pot and remove 2 and a half cups of what’s simmering into a pot with the uncooked brown rice. Cook about 5 minutes on high then cover and simmer on low for about 13-15 minutes.
When the rice is done add the entire pot into the crock pot and stir.
I like to peel my tomatoes so I don’t end up with little pieces of plastic-looking skins floating around. Fill the pot back up with about 3 cups water and a pinch of salt and heat to boiling. Toss the tomatoes into the boiling water for abut 40 – 45 seconds or until you can see the skin begin to crack and peel. Quickly take them out of the pot and the skin will slide right off. Then chop and add to the crock pot.
After the beans have steeped for 2 hours drain, rinse and add to the crock pot.
Let it all congeal, stirring often and testing the beans. When its almost dinnertime grill your sausage because the beans will be done. If you can’t get outside and grill, use a Foreman Grill or a grill pan. If you don’t have one of those you can fry or even bake it, doesn’t really matter as long as it gets cooked. When it’s done slice it and add it to the crock pot.
Stir and serve!