Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias is an iconic story about the ties that bind friends, families, and communities together. With a script that has proven to be a touching, transcendent piece in the theatre, as well as an iconic film, Steel Magnolias is a veritable parade of memorable lines and quotable quotes. As the narrative takes us through three years of love and loss, the fictional people of Chinquapin, Louisiana become as real as our own loved ones, sitting around the house, laughing, bellyaching, and waiting for dinner to be served.
Rice and beans is a go-to pairing for many types of cuisine. In the southwestern US, you’ll find them served alongside garlicky pork or green chiles. Asian kitchens are known for putting all varieties of beans and long grain rice into hearty soups made with meat stock. Traditional Louisiana Creole red rice and beans include andouille sausage and celery. This simple vegetarian version of the classic is a great idea for weekly meal planning, perfect for reheating quickly so you can run off to rehearsal or a Thursday night 7:30 pm curtain. Also great paired with Ouiser’s shrimp meat pies, if you can get her to bring ‘em.
Chinquapin Parish Kidney Beans and Wild Rice
- ½ pound dry red kidney beans
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice
- 1 small or medium red onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup white wine vinegar, divided
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground celery seed
- olive oil
- ground black pepper
Soak dry kidney beans in a bowl of fresh water for at least 6 hours. Drain and rinse beans, and put into a pot with 8 cups of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-high. Add about 1 teaspoon of salt and ¼ cup white wine vinegar. Cook until soft, usually about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside. You can, of course, use pre-cooked canned beans, but the flavor and texture will be much better if you do it the old-fashioned way starting with dry beans.
Put wild rice, water, cumin, and ground celery seed into a pot, and cook according to the package directions. (I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice.) While the rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, adding diced onion after 3 minutes. Cook the onion until it starts to become translucent, then add diced green bell pepper and minced garlic. Keep this mixture cooking until the edges of the vegetables start to turn brown, then reduce heat to low.
Once the rice has cooked to your desired texture, add rice, beans, red pepper flakes, and chili powder to the large skillet. Stir for 1 minute, then add the remaining ¼ cup white wine vinegar. Continue cooking for another 3 to 5 minutes until the vinegar is reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.