Red beans and rice is a staple of Creole cuisine. It’s easy to fix, inexpensive and good for you. Traditionally, this dish was prepared on Mondays because everyone did laundry on Mondays. So while the ladies were busy hanging up clothes on the line, they could simmer a delicious meal on the stove without having to interrupt their chores. Lots of cultures have some form of beans and rice dish, but this one is my absolute favorite. So here’s my recipe that I have adapted from some of the great cooks I met during my tenure in Louisiana.
Red Beans and Rice
(Serves your family, and then some!)
1 pound of dried red kidney beans
1 small white onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt (about 3 Tablespoons)
Black (about 3 Tablespoons)
Cayenne (1-2 Teaspoons)
1-2 Sprigs of thyme
1-2 Bay Leaves
Cooked white rice
Andouille sausage, Tasso ham, or smoked sausage
Chopped fresh parsley
Sort through the beans to remove pebbles and grit. Some people suggest soaking the beans for various reasons, but I never do. Just make sure no one will be breaking a crown on an overlooked piece of pebble.
In a large pot add the beans, 2 ½ quarts of water (Or about 10 cups; I had to look that up, I never measure at home), the chopped vegetables, and herbs and spices. Basically, dump everything into the pot.
Bring it all to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for about 1 ½ hours. Then add the sausage or ham and cook for about 30 more minutes. Serve with cooked white rice, chopped parsley and hot sauce (Crystal’s is my recommendation). If your beans are too “soupy,” use a potato masher or the back of a large spoon to mash up a quarter of the beans.
You can also add a ham hock or bone to the water and beans before cooking, which will really make it taste really authentic. Also try subbing half of the water for chicken stock.
Did you know?
In Creole cooking onion, bell pepper and celery comprise the “Trinity.” The French have their mirepoix (carrots, onion and celery), which they use as a foundation for all their dishes. But in Louisiana, it’s all about the Trinity.