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Polenta with Red Kidney Beans: A Comforting Classic with a Haitian Twist

Polenta with Red Kidney Beans

Have you discovered the magic of polenta, also known as Mais Moulu? This creamy cornmeal dish has become a favorite for many, and for good reason! But maybe you’ve been hesitant to try it because of the perceived long cooking time for polenta or red kidney beans. Well, fear not! This recipe is here to show you how to create a delicious and comforting dish without spending hours in the kitchen.

A Childhood Favorite, A Global Staple

As we get older, we often find ourselves appreciating the foods we grew up with on a whole new level. Polenta is a prime example. Made from corn, one of the most widely grown crops in the world, it serves as a base for countless dishes, snacks, and even breakfast cereals.

In my native Haiti, Polenta with Red Kidney Beans (Mayi Moulu ak Pwa Wouj/Polenta aux Haricots Rouges) has always been a staple. Traditionally, it’s enjoyed with meat and avocado, a custom still followed by many islanders.

A Few Words About Cornmeal: The Versatile Ancient Grain

Remember the ethanol boom a few years back? Corn, incredibly adaptable, was at the center of that too. There might not be another ingredient quite as versatile! This ancient grain, ground into cornmeal, is likely to be around long after us.

The finer the cornmeal, the quicker it cooks, so be sure to pay attention to the grind when choosing your brand.

Polenta with Red Kidney Beans
Polenta with Red Kidney Beans – Photo credits: Canva

Here’s a breakdown of the ingredients for Polenta with Red Kidney Beans:

Main Ingredients:

  • Red Kidney Beans are the star of the show! Dried beans have the best flavor and texture, but you can also opt for canned beans for convenience.
  • Cornmeal: This coarsely ground corn is the base for the polenta. Finer ground cornmeal cooks quicker.

Flavor Builders:

  • Spices and Herbs: These are added to the bean water to create a flavorful broth that infuses the polenta. The specific spices and herbs used can vary depending on preference, but they might include thyme, paprika, or Noubess Original Hot and Spicy with Herbs.
  • Poultry Seasoning or Steak Seasoning: Optional additions for those who like a bolder flavor profile.

Accompaniments:

  • Avocado: A traditional Haitian accompaniment that adds a creamy texture and richness to the dish.
  • Meat or Vegetables: This dish can be enjoyed on its own, but can also be served with your favorite protein or alongside roasted vegetables for a more complete meal.

Other Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil: Used for sauteing.
  • Tomato Paste: An optional ingredient that can be used to add color to the polenta if desired.
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste.

Making This Delicious Haitian Dish

Let’s get cooking! Here’s a breakdown of the steps:

  1. Cook the Beans: Start by cooking the red kidney beans. While dried beans offer the best flavor and texture, canned beans are a convenient alternative.
  2. Spice Up the Broth: After cooking the beans, add a medley of spices and herbs to the bean water. This flavorful base will infuse the polenta with deliciousness.
  3. Cook the Polenta: Slowly whisk the cornmeal into the seasoned bean broth, creating a creamy polenta.
Polenta with Red Kidney Beans
Polenta with Red Kidney Beans

Tips and Tricks:

  • Shortcuts on Time: While dried beans offer superior flavor, canned beans can save you time.
  • Color Considerations: Dried red kidney beans lend a beautiful reddish hue to the polenta. Using canned beans or tomato paste can achieve a similar effect.
  • Flavor Boosters: Elevate your dish with condiments like Noubess Original Hot and Spicy with Herbs, or explore NouBess poultry seasoning or steak seasoning for a personalized touch. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to adding flavor!
  • The Joy of Avocado: I adore polenta with just a touch of avocado, a childhood favorite that continues to bring me joy. Whether served as a side dish or enjoyed with meat and vegetables, the creamy avocado adds a delightful textural contrast.

The Final Touches:

Polenta with Red Kidney Beans is a versatile dish. Enjoy it on its own, pair it with your favorite protein, or add some colorful vegetables for a complete meal. So, ditch the intimidation factor and give this recipe a try. You might just discover your new favorite comfort food!

Polenta with Red Kidney Beans

Polenta with Red Kidney Beans is a traditional dish of the Caribbean. Usually served with a side of veggies or meat.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 5 minutes
Course Main Course, Side Dish, Side Dishes
Cuisine Caribbean, Haitian Cuisine
Servings 4
Calories 256 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ½ cup red kidney beans cleaned and rinsed
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig parsley
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Green Seasoning Blend or Haitian Epis
  • ¼ cup white onions minced
  • ¼ cup green peppers diced
  • 1 cup cornmeal coarse or fine
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 2 cloves
  • ½ teaspoon salt more to taste if preferred
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste – optional
  • 1 teaspoon flaxseed meal – optional

Instructions
 

  • Cook the Beans: In a large pot, combine the rinsed kidney beans, garlic clove, parsley sprig, and 3 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1-1.5 hours, or until the beans are tender but still hold their shape. Add more water if needed throughout cooking to maintain liquid level. Drain the beans, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Discard the garlic and parsley.
  • Sauté the Vegetables: In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the smoked paprika, onion, and green pepper. Sauté for 2 minutes, or until the vegetables soften. (If using tomato paste, stir it in at this point and cook for another minute.)
  • Combine Everything: Add the cooked beans, reserved bean cooking liquid, thyme, cloves, and black pepper to the pan. Bring to a simmer.
  • Cook the Polenta: In a small bowl, whisk together the cornmeal with 1 cup of water. Slowly whisk this mixture into the simmering bean mixture, ensuring no lumps form. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. The polenta will thicken as it cooks.
  • Adjust Consistency: If the polenta becomes too thick, add more reserved bean cooking liquid or water, ½ cup at a time, until it reaches a creamy consistency.
  • Serve and Enjoy: Once cooked through, remove the thyme and cloves. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Serve hot, spooned onto plates and topped with your favorite garnishes like chopped fresh herbs, crumbled cheese, or a drizzle of olive oil.

Notes

  • For a richer flavor, substitute vegetable broth for some of the water used to cook the beans.
  • Want it spicier? Add a pinch of red pepper flakes along with the smoked paprika.
  • Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat gently on the stovetop with a splash of water or broth to loosen the consistency.
  • Feel free to experiment with different vegetables! Chopped carrots, zucchini, or mushrooms would all be delicious additions.

Nutrition

Calories: 256kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 6gFat: 10gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 6gSodium: 335mgPotassium: 301mgFiber: 6gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 130IUVitamin C: 10mgCalcium: 24mgIron: 2mg

Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on the products used.

Keyword beans, Haitian Cuisine, Healthy Grains, healthy side dish, polenta recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
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Nutrition info is automatically generated and provided as a courtesy and as an estimate only.

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Corn Allergy:

Always choose ingredients without corn or corn derivatives.

Originally published on Mary 24, 2013. Revised and updated.

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