We love Popeye's red beans and rice. We've had red beans and rice all over the country - from the east coast to the west and, yes, even in authentic Cajun restaurants lurking all around New Orleans. Many times they have been interesting, many have been good...and a few of them have been horrible. But in our opinion nothing has ever beaten Popeye's version of red beans and rice. Of course, if we're sittin' in the Big Easy with Doctor John or Buckwheat Zydeco playing in the background and a float rolling by out on the street they could probably serve us gravel on toasted cardboard and we wouldn't notice...or really care. I digress. You may decide we're gourmands, but maybe it's like a first love - to us, nothing has ever come close to Popeye's red beans and rice. When my wife and I were dating we lived over a hundred miles apart. The nearest Popeye's to where I lived was over 60 miles away, but it was in her direction. So I'd stop on my way to see her, get a huge order of red beans and rice that we'd share, and anything that was left over I'd take home with me and freeze in individual containers that I could nuke later on.
We have lived in places through the years where there were simply no Popeye's to be found, so we set out to recreate their recipe so we wouldn't have to rely on a Popeye's being nearby. We found a pretty good one on the internet, but with a few tweaks of our own and some tips learned by making many batches we came up with one that we think is indistinguishable from Popeye's own...and now we want to share it with you.
Step 1: Gather the Ingredients
BEANS: (see photo above)
1 1/2 cups dry pinto beans
5 cups water
1 1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp paprika
4 tbsp. margarine
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
RICE: (see photo above)
1 cup Jasmine rice
2 cups water
2 tbsp. margarine
1/2 tsp garlic salt
The recipe make about four servings.
Step 2: Prepare the Beans
1. In a large pot, combine dry beans and water and heat to a rapid boil. Boil for two minutes, turn off heat, then cover and let stand for an hour and a half. DO NOT discard the water. Turn the heat back on to medium - enough to bring the beans to a steady boil.
2. Add the other ingredients.
3. With beans at a low boil, use a fork or the back of a wooden spoon to mash some against the side of the pot as shown in the photo above. Stir constantly, mashing more beans until about half of them are mashed and half whole. In about 20 - 25 minutes the beans should reach the consistency of sloppy refried beans with whole beans included.
Step 3: Prepare the Rice
1. Place water, rice, margarine and garlic salt in a saucepan and heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.
2. Once boiling, turn off heat and cover tightly. Let stand ten minutes.
3. Check the rice. If it's too dry, add a little water and return to boiling while stirring until water is absorbed. If the rice is too watery, return to boiling and stir until excess water is absorbed.
SECRETS TO SUCCESS:
A. PLEASE don't try to shortcut by using canned beans! Most canned beans have sugar added to them (don't ask me why!) and this completely destroys the flavor. We found this out the hard way. Take the extra time to boil the dry beans - you'll be glad you did!
B. The recipe can be doubled, tripled or more by simple multiplication
C. You can adjust the spice to your liking simply by increasing or decreasing the amount of white pepper used - but we think the amount in the recipe perfectly duplicates Popeye's heat.
NOTE: The bean ingredients shown in the photo (not in the recipe itself) illustrate a doubled recipe. Usually when I'm making this I double or triple the bean recipe so I have way more beans than rice. After the meal I freeze the leftover beans in appropriate sized containers. When we want another meal with red beans and rice I simply take some beans out of the freezer, nuke them or heat them up on the stove (add a little water either way) and they're as delicious as they were the first time around. Since it takes quite a bit of time to make the beans from scratch but not much time at all to make rice, this saves considerable time for later meals.
Thanks for taking a look at my Instructable - please, please, PLEASE give it a try - I think you will be very pleasantly surprised!