A big pot of White Beans simmering on the stove! That's hard to beat. Season with smoked bacon and South Louisiana seasonings then slowly simmer in a rich stock with a special flavor enhancer. Toss in some fresh Gulf Shrimp and you have something special. Served over rice, this is extreme comfort food from the Bayou. Give Sweet Daddy D’s flavorful, no-angst recipe for White Beans and Shrimp a try...now that’s some simple Cajun comfort food!
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What are White Beans and Shrimp?
White Beans and Rice is a staple comfort food in South Louisiana. It doesn’t get the press that its city cousin, Red Beans and Rice, gets but ask any Native of South Louisiana and they’ll tell you how wonderful a plate of white beans can be. White Beans and Rice is usually Great Northern Beans or Navy Beans slowly simmered with sausage or ham. These mild beans soak up the flavor of the seasonings with which they are cooked. Sweet Daddy D's White Beans and Shrimp adds a twist...white beans slowly simmered in a savory stock with seasoned shrimp and a special flavor enhancer, Liquid Shrimp and Crab Boil. I can just imagine some Cajun shrimpers out on the trawl with a big pot of white beans in the galley and a bunch of fresh shrimp they just hauled in-why not peel some and throw them in the bean pot?? Genius at work! This dish is the real deal!
Here's What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
Note on the shrimp: You can use fresh or frozen shrimp for this. If you get shrimp still in the shell with heads, make sure to save the shells and heads to make homemade stock. This recipe works well with small to medium shrimp, but I usually use a medium to large shrimp. Confused about how shrimp are sized? Check out my short article called What Size Shrimp Do I Need?
Note on the beans: I developed this recipe using dry Great Northern Beans, but Navy Beans will work as well. You could even substitute canned beans for the dry beans, but you should rinse the canned beans and adjust the cooking time.
Here is some of the equipment I used in making this recipe:
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Here's What You Do
First...you have a beer. This recipe will be easy to make if you get your head around what you are about to undertake. To do that, have a beer and read the recipe all the way through. This will give you an understanding of what you need and what you'll be doing each step of the way before you even gather and prepare your ingredients. Make sure the beans are ready to go by soaking them, which isn’t as challenging as you think. There are three methods recommended by Camellia Beans and you can read about those in the Hints and Tips (FAQs) section below. Once you have done that, perform your mise en place; preparation is the key to a no-angst experience.
Mise en Place
Soak the Beans
Many dry beans will cook faster if you first soak them in cold water. There are three methods that work well. Read what the folks at Camellia Beans have to say about it. I usually use the one-hour quick method. Check out my article about beans-it covers soaking and more stuff...probably more than you want to know!
Prepare the shrimp
Peel, clean and rinse the shrimp, then pat them dry with a paper towel. Place them in a bowl with a generous sprinkle of creole seasoning and set them aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. If you are using the shells and heads to make a homemade shrimp stock (highly recommended), you can peel the shrimp the day before and place them in the freezer until you are ready to use them.
Prepare the remaining ingredients
Slice the bacon into about 1-inch pieces. Chop the Trinity (yellow onions, bell peppers, and celery) and place it all in a bowl together. Chop the garlic and place in a separate ramekin; measure out the liquid crab boil into a ramekin and mix up the Herb and Spice Blend into a separate ramekin. Measure out the stock. You’re ready to go...cue a swig of beer.
Fry bacon and the vegetables
What happens in this step? The first layer of flavor starts here. The Trinity is sauteed in the renderings of smokey bacon. Then we add the aromatics!
Starting in a cold dutch oven, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until most of the fat is rendered.
Leaving the bacon in the dutch oven, turn down the heat and add the Trinity (onions, bell peppers, and celery). Saute slowly until starting to brown and caramelize, which will take about 6 minutes.
Turn up the heat and add the garlic and about ⅔ of the Herb and Spice Blend (not the salt yet), reserving the rest for later. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic.
Now for the beans
What happens in this step? Don't just throw the beans in the pot...spread the flavor base we have been building throughout the beans, then simmer them slowly to concentrate the rich flavor.
Add the beans to the Dutch oven and stir well so all the beans are coated with the bacon grease, trinity, and spices. Continue to saute for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add a little stock to deglaze the Dutch oven, making sure to scrape up any browned goodness on the bottom.
Then add the remaining stock and the liquid crab boil.
Pro Tip: The liquid crab boil is concentrated and very intense. Resist the temptation to add more than called for until you taste it. This will have a major impact on the flavor and should be added with caution. I have ruined dishes by adding too much crab boil!
Stir to combine while bringing it to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a heavy simmer and continue uncovered for about 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to come together.
Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.
Adding the shrimp
What happens in this step? While the beans reach the desired texture, we'll add the shrimp to soak up that intense flavor. It won't take the shrimp long to cook.
After 2 hours, start testing the beans to see if they are softening. Once the beans are soft, taste them for seasoning. Add the remaining Herb and Spice Blend and the salt. Start with about 1 teaspoon of salt and add more if desired. The shrimp will absorb some salt so it's OK to be a little salty at this point.
When the beans are soft enough, keep them at a heavy simmer and add the shrimp by hand, a few at a time, mixing thoroughly as you go. Once all the shrimp have been added, lower the heat to a slow simmer, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and let the dutch oven sit covered for about 5 minutes. Taste again for salt and add more if desired. Remove the bay leaves and serve over long grain rice.
That's it, all there is to it.
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Hints and Tips (FAQs)
"White Beans" is a pretty generic term. There are a few varieties and you can read more about them in this article from Camellia Beans. This recipe was developed using dry Great Northern Beans, but it can be made with Navy Beans with no change in flavor or even Red Kidney Beans with a very slight change in texture and flavor. Although I have never done this, you could substitute canned beans for the dry. You should rinse the canned beans before using and adjust the cooking time.
Leftover cooked White Beans and Shrimp can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Place the cooled beans in a shallow, airtight container within a couple of hours after cooking. I recommend reheating on the stovetop. You can reheat this in the microwave, but there is a chance the shrimp will turn rubbery if heated for too long. Add a little water to thin them out, if needed.
To freeze leftover beans, place them in a shallow, airtight container and into the freezer within 2 hours of cooking. They should last about 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat on the stove or microwave.
Cooked white rice can be frozen if placed in an airtight container (using a vacuum sealer is optimal) for up to 6 months. To reheat rice on the stove, bring a saucepan of water to a boil, then place the frozen rice into the boiling water for a couple of minutes until the grains are separated and warmed through. You can also reheat defrosted rice in the microwave.
The beans will soften quicker if they are soaked prior to cooking. According to the Camellia Beans website, there are three easy ways to do this-read what they have to say. There's an eight-hour (overnight) method as well as a 3-hour and 1-hour method. I usually use the one-hour quick method. Check out my article about beans-it covers soaking and more stuff than you probably want to know!
Zatarain's Liquid Shrimp and Crab Boil is a popular liquid seasoning used in boiled seafood in Louisiana. It is concentrated and very potent, so resist the urge to use more than called for until you taste the beans. I have ruined dishes before by using too much Liquid Crab Boil. It's a unique flavor and cannot be easily duplicated. You can buy some here. Substitute some cayenne pepper to taste if you can't get the Crab Boil. You'll miss the distinct flavor but you'll get the heat and it will still be delicious.
Medium-size shrimp will work well in this recipe. Check out my article What Size Shrimp Do I Need to learn more about how shrimp sizes are classified. If you buy fresh shrimp with the heads on, make sure to buy more than the recipe calls for, like a ½ to 1 pound more, so that when they are peeled, you'll end up with the right amount.
This recipe is best if you can use some homemade shrimp stock. I realize not everyone has some in the freezer, so if you want to make some from the shrimp heads and shells, read this. If not, this recipe is still very good with some commercial chicken stock or seafood stock. Just click those links and buy some.
I recommend not salting your beans until the end. Salt can penetrate the bean's shell and some folks think this will make the beans mushy. Some other folks dismiss this idea. Check out my article on beans so that you can learn more and decide for yourself.
Here are some other Shrimp recipes from Sweet Daddy D that you're going to love:
More Cajun comfort food recipes from Sweet Daddy D:
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Yeah You Right!
White Beans with Shrimp
Here's What You Need
- 1-2 pounds shrimp
- 4 slices smoked bacon
- 1 pound dry great northern beans see Notes
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped
- ½ medium green pepper chopped
- 2 stalks Celery chopped
- 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 6 cups Shrimp or Chicken Stock See Notes
- ½ teaspoon liquid crab boil See Notes
- to taste kosher salt at end-See Notes
Herb and Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning plus some for the shrimp
- 1 teaspoon Oregano optional
- 1 teaspoon Basil
- 1 teaspoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
Here's What You Do
- Soak the beans. See Notes
- Peel, clean and rinse shrimp. Pat dry with a paper towel and combine with some creole seasoning and set aside. Chop and measure all other ingredients and set aside until needed.
- Starting in a cold dutch oven, saute the bacon until most of the fat is rendered.
- Leaving bacon in the dutch oven, turn down the heat and add the onions, bell peppers and celery. Saute slowly until starting to brown and caramelize, about 6 minutes.
- Turn up the heat and add the garlic and about ⅔ of the Herb and Seasoning Blend. Stir for 2 to 3 minutes until aromatic.
- Add the beans (after draining) and stir well to coat all the beans with the bacon grease, trinity and spices. Saute about 4 or 5 minutes.
- Add a little stock to deglaze the dutch oven (if needed), scraping up all the browned goodness on the bottom.
- Add the remaining stock and the liquid crab boil (see Notes); bring to a full boil, reduce heat to a heavy simmer and continue uncovered for about 5 minutes while all the flavors begin to come together.
- Lower heat to a simmer, cover pot and cook for about 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.
- At about the 2-hour mark, start testing the beans to see if they are getting tender. Remove the cover intermittently if the beans need to thicken once they are soft.
- Once the beans are soft, taste for seasoning. Add the remaining Herb and Spice Blend and 1 teaspoon of salt. The shrimp will absorb some salt so it's OK to be a little salty at this point.
- Add the shrimp by hand, a few at a time, and mix in thoroughly.
- Keeping the beans on a slow simmer, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit covered for about 5 minutes. Taste again for salt and add more if desired.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve over long grain rice.