Pros: Tastes good, cheap, quick and easy to prepare
Cons: No spicy heat
Those of you who like your red beans and rice spicy will need to add your own hot spice to this product, which tastes pretty good for a bag mixture.
Why We Ate It
We had this bag of Mahatma Red Beans & Rice, unmade, sitting in our pantry for what was probably far too long. My husband, who is a fan of Louisiana cooking, had purchased it who knows how long ago. Last night, when I finally got tired of seeing it in our pantry, I cooked it up and added some bacon to it.
Add Your Own Meat
The package recommends, as a "serving tip," that you cook sausage in a sauce pan and cook the red beans and rice mixture in the same sauce pan. Normally, I would want to add andouille sausage to red beans and rice, which would give it the needed spicy heat, but alas, I did not have any andouille on hand (and frankly, not being in the South right now, I'm not sure where to get any around here).
We Added Bacon
In fact, I didn't have any sausage at all to add and had just bought bacon earlier that day, so I cooked up six slices of bacon to crumble into the red beans and rice. I did not cook the bacon and the red beans and rice mixture in the same sauce pan because I was not sure whether that would work. So I cooked the bacon in a separate skillet, blotted it with a paper towel, and added it into the cooked red beans and rice after it was already done.
The substitution of one pork product (bacon) for another (sausage) worked out quite well in the end. My husband, who at first wrinkled his nose at the idea of adding bacon to a mixture so clearly calling out for andouille sausage, actually liked the way bacon tasted in this mix of red beans and rice.
At least, to us, there was no spicy heat in this formulation of red beans and rice. That's okay, though, since not everyone likes spicy heat in their food. We do, but I did not feel like eating anything spicy last night, so I didn't add anything other than the bacon to mine. My husband, on the other hand, decided that he had to have the spice, so he reached for his trusty bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce. A few drops of the sauce and a stir or two later, he was set and pronounced it "good."
The package says that it contains four servings. This is probably true if you are not eating a lot, if you are using it as a side dish with something else, or if you add a lot more meat to it than I did. But the hubby and I polished all of it off between the two of us. The fact that he went back for a couple more helpings says that he liked it.
Comparison to Other Mixes
Honestly, I do not have much to compare this mix to, since this is the first red beans and rice mix that I have ever made. But my husband likes Zatarain's Jambalaya mix, which I have had a few times, and which he cooks up with sausage. In comparison, I like the Mahatma Red Beans and Rice mix a lot better. To my taste, the Zatarain's is way too salty - it seems to rely on salt as its primary flavoring. So by adding sausage, you are basically adding a salty meat to a salty mix and eating (and tasting) lots of salt. If I want that much salt, instead of eating the Zatarain's, it would be easier to just pour salt on my tongue and eat something else, frankly.
While I do not doubt that the Mahatma mix probably contains its fair share of sodium (I did not check the package for how much), whatever salt is in the Mahatma mix does not come out in the flavor the way it does in the Zatarain's. I have to drink what feels like a Noah's Flood of water whenever I eat Zatarain's, and that just wasn't the case with this Mahatma mix.
The Mahatma's mix was quick to prepare. You add the mix to 3 1/4 cups of boiling water (or more, if you want it "saucier") and an optional tablespoon of margarine, stir, then cut the heat down and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Then you take it off the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes, after which you stir it and serve. I crumbled up my cooked, cooled bacon directly into the cooked mix at the end and stirred it in.