“In New Orleans, you come out of the womb instinctually knowing how to cook red beans and rice. Really, only the nervous newlywed follows a recipe.” 1
Well, I’m not from New Orleans and I still qualify as a newlywed (who is sometimes nervous in the kitchen), so I definitely needed a recipe to make red beans and rice. I found several on the internet, but this one looked to be the simplest.
I asked Russell’s opinion of my first attempt at red beans and rice, since he lived in New Orleans for 3 years during seminary and was the one who requested I make red beans and rice, and he said that the beans I made weren’t quite on par with those he had at the seminary but they were still good. I personally think the beans turned out great! (We went to New Orleans a couple of weekends ago and I finally tried the seminary’s famous red beans and rice. Though they were good I thought the ones I made had more flavor. 😉 )
Also, I’m pretty darn proud of myself for making this completely from scratch (including rehydrating dried beans).
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
From the Kitchen of : Budget Bytes
Prep time: 3 hours+
1 lb red kidney beans, dry
1 medium yellow onion
3 stalks celery
1 large green bell pepper
1 lb hot sausage: andouille or kielbasa (I used mild andouille sausage)
1 smoked ham hock
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic (I used garlic powder)
2 whole bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cubes chicken bouillon
1 tsp (or to taste) cajun seasoning (I used Zatarain’s)
6 green onions, sliced
2 cups long grain rice, uncooked
The night before cooking, place your beans in a large bowl and cover with double the amount of water. Let soak at room temperature over night.
[If you forget to soak your beans over night, here’s how to quick soak them: Place them in a pot with double the amount of cold water. Cover the pot, bring to a boil, and let boil for 2 minutes. Remove the beans from the heat after two minutes and let sit, tightly covered, for one hour.]
While the beans are soaking, slice the sausage to your preference: small triangular bits, half moons, or medallions. Saute the sausage in a large pot over medium/high heat until they are cooked through and nicely browned. Remove them from the pot with a slotted spoon (leave the grease) and refrigerate until later.
Clean and dice the onion, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic. Add these to the large pot containing the sausage grease, and add 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil if needed. Saute the vegetables until they are soft and transparent (about 10-15 minutes).
Drain the soaking water off of the beans, rinse them then add them to the pot. Also add 7 cups of water, ham hock, bouillon, bay leaves, thyme and oregano. Stir it all together well and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly (medium) and boil until the beans are soft (without a lid, about one hour). If the mixture gets dry, add more water.
Once the beans are soft, use the back of a large spoon to smash about half of the beans against the side of the pot. This will give the beans a nice thick “creamy” texture. (My mother-in-law gave me a Pampered Chef potato masher for Christmas. It worked great for this task, and then I just used it as a spoon to stir up the beans!)
Add the sausage back into the pot and continue to boil the mixture until it is to your desired thickness (without a lid, about an hour). Again, if the mixture gets dry, add more water. Add cajun seasoning to your liking. If the seasoning contains salt you will probably not need to add any more to the beans.
During the last hour of cooking, prepare the rice according to package directions.
At the end of cooking, remove the hock and cut away the meat from the bone and skin. The cooked meat can then be added back into the pot. Serve the beans in a bowl with a pile of rice on top. Top the bowl with some freshly sliced green onions.
- Even though this recipe contains cajun seasoning it is not spicy/hot. The seasoning is just for flavor.
- This recipe is supposed to cook very well in a slow cooker. A commenter on the original blogger’s post suggested starting with only half the amount of water and adding more as needed.
- Both beans and rice freeze well for leftovers.
- If you buy more celery or ham hocks than needed for this recipe, just stick the extras in the freezer until you can use them in another recipe. I chopped up my leftover celery, spread out the pieces on a cookie sheet (covered in parchment), and stuck it in the freezer. The next day I put all of the individually frozen pieces in a quart-sized plastic bag; so now I can scoop out the exact amount I need instead of thawing all of the celery.
- When I was searching the internet for a red beans and rice recipe I read an interesting piece of information: In New Orleans, Red Beans and Rice is a Monday tradition. “Mondays used to be the traditional ‘wash day’ of the week. […]Women of the house would put on a pot of red beans to cook all day while they tended to the laundry, since the meal required little hands-on attention. The beans were largely seasoned by the leftover hambone from the previous night’s dinner.” 2
- The combination of celery, onion, and green bell pepper used as the base of a dish is referred to as the holy trinity. This is a common ingredient in Cajun/Creole food.
- Apparently the favorite food of jazz legend Louis Armstrong was red beans and rice, (which isn’t that surprising since he was from New Orleans). He would often sign letters “Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong.”
1 source: southernliving.com
2 source: neworleansonline.com
There’s still plenty of time to join in on the New Orleans tradition of Red Beans and Rice Monday. Just remember to start soaking your beans tonight!