Red Beans and Rice - A Front Country Camping Favorite

Even though I'm a backpacking guide I still enjoy heading out for a front country campout every now and again.  The fun thing about heading out for a campout when you've got a car is the fact that you're much less limited on your food choices.  You're also able to bring a lot more friends with you to enjoy the campout as well!  Whenever I'm heading out for a front country camping event, I often find myself looking at my cast iron dutch oven for food preparation.  It can be used to make tons of dishes from savory stews to monkey bread to even fresh batches of biscuits!  My favorite recipe to make for a crowd though is my famous red beans and rice.  This make-ahead meal can be prepped in the days leading up to the event and then reheated on your grill or campfire when you get there.  

If you've read any of my recipes before you know that I don't take shortcuts when it comes to using more natural ingredients.  Many of you may remember that when I was prepping for my thru hikes last summer I even made my own chicken stock to use to cook the rice.  When making this recipe I decided I wanted it to be a little healthier, even though I was going to be out camping.  I started with dry beans soaked at home overnight for less sodium.  I also chose al fresco's Sweet & Smokey BBQ Chicken Sausage.  It's made with lean, skinless chicken meat, al fresco’s chicken sausage products contain 70% less fat and 30% less sodium than average pork sausage. Better yet, all of al fresco’s chicken sausage flavors are gluten-free and are packaged fully cooked.  This meant all I needed to do was brown the sausage and I was ready to get cooking!  Here's my recipe for red beans and rice to feed a crowd: 

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Sprinkles' Red Beans and Rice: Cook time - 3 hours, plus reheating time at camp

Ingredients: 
1 Package al fresco Sweet & Smokey BBQ sausage
1 1 lb bag dry red beans (soaked overnight)
1 sweet onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove elephant garlic (or enough to equal 2 tablespoons)
3 dried bay leaves
1/2 Tablespoon ham base seasoning
1 tablespoon cajun seasoning
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce
Salt & Pepper to taste

For Serving: 
1 cup brown rice, cooked in 2.5 cups water
Green onion for garnish

 Browning nicely! 

Browning nicely! 

 Veggies are so pretty! 

Veggies are so pretty! 

Put your dutch oven over medium high heat and add sliced up al fresco Sweet & Smokey BBQ Sausage, browning it to your liking (I like mine nice and crunchy!).  Remove from the pan and set aside to add later.  While the sausage is browning, chop up all your veggies including the garlic.  Add them to a bowl, along with the ham base, cajun seasoning, and bay leaves.  After removing the sausage from the dutch oven, add this bowl into the pot.  Cook until the veggies have softened - about 5 minutes.  Add in your drained and rinsed red beans and stir.  Now, cover the mixture with enough water to keep everything covered about three inches.  Place the lid on the pot with a slight gap to allow for evaporation and simmer for about 90 minutes - stirring every 15 minutes or so.  After 90 minutes, add the sausage back to the pot along with the hot sauce and let this cook down with the lid on, but slightly ajar, for another 30 minutes or so.  Continue to check this every few minutes to make sure it's breaking down properly.  When you're adding the sausage back to the pot, this is when you're going to want to start the rice if you're going to be eating this right away.  After about 30 minutes the bean mixture in the dutch oven should thicken up like gravy.  Before serving, check the salt and pepper seasonings and add more to your liking.  Serve over brown rice with green onions on top, along with salt, pepper, and extra hot sauce!

 Yum! Dinner is served! 

Yum! Dinner is served! 

Al fresco also has a Summer Grilling Sweepstakes going on RIGHT NOW that you can check out by clicking the link: http://www.alfrescoallnatural.com/promos/summer-grilling-sweeps .  All you have to do is vote for your favorite recipe and you'll be entered for a chance to win $500 and a new grill (valued at $500)!

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by al fresco and TapInfluence through FitFluential.  As always, all opinions are my own. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of al fresco. The opinions and text are all mine.