05 June 2011

Creole Butter Beans

For the past few days, I've been un-enthusiastically searching for good sounding recipes for butter beans.  I got them in my CSA last week, and was excited about them until I discovered that butter beans is just another name for lima beans.  I've never met a lima bean that I actually liked.  In fact, I've hated them since I was a kid.

So what in the world was I going to cook with them.  In searching online, I found a lot of recipes for cajun or creole butter beans.  They all had pretty much the same ingredients - onions, peppers, cajun seasoning, tomatoes, hot sauce, sausage - and I figure if you throw enough of those goodies into a recipe, it'll make anything taste good.  The other problem I had with creole butter beans was that it's a thick, hearty stew-like dish.  Its been close to 100 degrees all week, a stew is the last thing I am in the mood for.

I told myself, if they make this down in New Orleans, it must be ok in hot weather.  We're talking southern Louisiana for goodness sakes, its even hotter and muggier there than it is here.  Then it rained all day today, and it put me in more of a stew-y mood.

How'd they turn out?

It was good.  The strong creole flavors overshadowed the lima bean flavors that I hate so much.  I didn't really taste the lima beans, as much as feel the texture of the beans.  So for me, the beans could have been omitted and it would have tasted about the same.  Or you could use almost any other bean in this.  But without the beans, it wouldn't be nearly as healthy.  It was a great way to use up the fresh butter beans that I got in my CSA basket.  I don't think its something I will crave, but I would certainly eat it again.  But it might be different for someone else, so I figured I would pass it along.

I ate this as a main dish with rice, but without (or with) the rice, it could easily be a side for something like grilled chicken.  You could eat this over rice to stretch it a bit farther, or to make it a more "traditional" one-pot meal, complete with starch.  I could even imagine using this as a flavor base to make risotto.  If you omit the sausage, it is a hearty, almost meaty vegetarian meal.

Creole Butter Beans
adapted from several sources
serves 4
1 green pepper
1 poblano pepper
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
1 link andouille or chorizo sausage, or 1/4 - 1/3 breakfast sausage (PLEASE spend the money on good, fresh chorizo or andouille.  You only need 1 link here, so what you use isn't really that expensive, and it is well worth it!  I buy mine at Fresh Market or Whole Foods, and its $1.50 - $2.00 for one link.)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 T flour
2 t sriracha or other chili sauce
1 t cajun seasoning
1/2 t hot sauce
1/2 t dijon or creole mustard
1/2 c rice
1 t thyme

Chop the onion, peppers, and garlic.  Take sausage out of casing, and crumble into a hot pan.  Cook the sausage almost through, and add the onions, peppers and garlic.  If you need more oil, add it (this will depend on how fatty your sausage is).  When onions are cooked, add flour and stir in.  Cook about 1 minute.  Add 1 cup of water (1/2 cup if you aren't adding the rice), tomatoes, beans, sriracha, cajun seasoning, hot sauce, and mustard.  Bring to a boil, and simmer 20 minutes, stir occasionally (30 minutes if you aren't adding the rice).  Add rice and cook another 20 minutes.  During the last minute of cooking, stir in the thyme.

This turns out pretty spicy.  If you don't want it so spicy, add less sriracha and hot sauce.

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