Red Beans and Rice

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Think of New Orleans and immediately you think of Mardi Gras and Food. You can talk about those two topics for a long time, but when I connect those two dots, it simply points to Red Beans and Rice.

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage
Creamy New Orleans Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

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Of all the food and cuisines that identify New Orleans, nothing epitomizes the Crescent City culinary culture like Red Beans and Rice. Once and always a Monday tradition, it’s in every home and you shouldn’t be surprised to see it on any restaurant menu in New Orleans or South Louisiana, from fine dining establishments to a neighborhood poboy restaurant. Owing to the Caribbean influences in the diverse local culinary culture, it’s the quintessential Mardi Gras food, a crowd pleaser and basic comfort food. You’ve heard all the folklore – Mondays are washdays, a leftover bone from Sunday’s ham and on and on. I don’t care how it happened, Red Beans and Rice are so good that they earned a revered spot on the weekly food plan for an entire region. Like most Louisiana staples, like Gumbo, Jambalaya and Crawfish Étouffée, everyone has their favorite recipe, most handed down from parents or grandparents. Red Beans and Rice is no different. Honestly, I doubt I’ve ever had a bad dish of RB&B and I hate to let the secret out of the bag – the best recipes are simple and naturally no-angst.

Here’s What You Need

Red Beans are kidney beans. A pound of dry red kidney beans will feed a decent size crowd.  Camellia Brand is New Orleans’ finest beans and all I use…order some from Amazon right here. These are nutritious and full of fiber and when you season them with a nice smoky seasoning meat, the trinity of onions, bell peppers and celery, an earthy Herb and Spice blend  (oregano, basil, thyme and bay leaves plus some creole seasoning and ground black pepper) and toss in a handful of chopped garlic, they’ll cook down to a rich, creamy, smoky pot of goodness.

Dry Red Kidney Beans-Camellia Brand
Dry Red Kidney Beans

The seasoning meats are the ingredients that will build the flavor like George Porter Jr. laying down a bass line for the Meters. That’s where it all begins. The best seasoning meat is a ham bone with a good bit of meat left on. Smoked ham just seems to be a perfect match for the beans. If that’s not available, a smoked ham hock or even some smoked turkey necks are excellent. The idea is to impart a smoky flavor.  To aid in that endeavor, in addition to some smoked meat, you’ll want to also use some nice, flavorful smoked sausage.

The sausage can be spicy or mild and it adds its flavor to the profile and provides a nice consistency when you eat it. Try to choose a smoked sausage or andouille that has a high-fat content, so the fat renders and adds to the flavor. Experiment with different sausages and you will see what I mean. The trinity is chopped onions, celery and bell peppers and is a foundation ingredient in many south Louisiana dishes. As the vegetables cook down, their natural sugars become part of the flavor. Tie this all together with garlic and a blend of Herbs and Spices. Don’t forget some long grain rice-1 cup raw rice will yield 3 cups of cooked rice!

All because it’s Carnival Ti-i-ime
Whoa, it’s Carnival Time
Oh well, it’s Carnival Time
And everybody’s havin’ fun

                                                                        Al Johnson’s Carnival Time                            

Here’s What You Do

First…you have a beer. Get in the right frame of mind and putting this together is easy, but you do need to plan a little ahead. I always start by soaking the dry beans in cold water overnight, trying to soften the beans and reduce the cooking time.

Soaking red kidney beans in cold water
Soak dem beans!

If  I forget to do that, there are a couple of other quicker soaking methods that work fine, or you could skip it altogether. No one will cancel Mardi Gras over that. In fact, there is some question if soaking is even necessary or beneficial but I doubt you’ll catch too many old Louisiana cooks not soaking their red beans. If you want to know more about soaking and other bean-centric topics, check out my Lagniappe post on dem beans.

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Chop up all your onions, celery, peppers and garlic, then put the Herbs and Spice Blend together in a small bowl. Set it all aside and you’re ready to go.

Chopped onions, peppers and celery with herbs, spices and garlic
The Trinity, some garlic and the Herb and Spice Blend

You’ll want to slice the sausage into medallions and sauté it in the Dutch oven you will use to cook the beans. Rendering the fat out of the sausage is the first layer of flavor you’ll have. Once the fat has rendered and the sausage has nicely browned, pull it out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set it aside.

Rendering smoked sausage in a dutch oven
Fry the sausage

Make sure to leave the rendered fat and fond from the sausage in the pot because this is the foundation upon which to build the flavors. Drain the beans that have been soaking and add them to that same Dutch oven, stir them around in the rendered sausage fat getting it all over the beans. Add the seasoning meat and the bay leaves and enough cold water to cover the beans by about an inch.  You should see that nice rendered fat floating at the top of the water. That’s some good.

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage with ham hock
Simmering

Turn up the heat to high and once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat and place the cover on the pot and simmer for about an hour. Good time for another beer. Stir it from time to time so that it doesn’t stick. After that hour, uncover the pot and add back the sausage. Add the veggies, garlic and about 2/3 of the Herb and Spice Blend. Mix everything together and let the beans continue to simmer for 30 minutes, this time uncovered. You’ll need to stir it occasionally so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom. Add more water to keep the beans covered if you need to.

red beans and rice simmering in a dutch oven
Simmer on low until the beans are soft and creamy

After 30 minutes, stir well and put the cover back on. Adjust the heat if you need to and simmer it another 30 minutes with the cover on, stirring occasionally. Once this 30 minutes is up, take the cover off and you’re in the home stretch. It should be getting thick and creamy.  How’s your beer? Test the beans to see if they are soft enough for you. At this point, it may be very near ready but it could take another 30 minutes or so. If the beans are still really tough, it may even take another hour. You’ll just have to keep simmering over low heat until they are soft, adding a little more water if they are getting too thick. If your beans are still hard after for 2 hours, read my Lagniappe article and you may get an idea as to why.

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The beans are ready when they are as soft and creamy as you like them. Some folks like a little more liquid, some like them thicker. Taste them now for salt and seasoning. Remember, you haven’t added any salt yet so they will likely be a little bland-you’ll wake them up quickly. Start with about a teaspoon of salt, give them a good stir, taste and add more if you like. Add more of the Herbs and Spice Blend if you want more kick.

Cook some rice and get ready for a treat. One cup of uncooked rice will yield about three cups of cooked rice. Take the bay leaves out, mound up some rice and ladle on some Red Beans. These beans go well with a lot of things- grilled smoked sausage, stuffed bell peppers, hamburger patties, pork chops, fried chicken, fried fish, meatloaf.… anything you can imagine, or they’re great just by themselves.

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage
Creamy New Orleans Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage

You can enjoy this New Orleans classic any time you want, and when its Carnival Ti-i-ime, they are extra special. Enjoy!

You’ll want to get some of these Camellia Red Beans…it’s all I ever use and they are the best!

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Yeah You Right!

 

Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage
Sweet Daddy D's Red Beans and Rice
Votes: 2
Rating: 4.5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Of all the great food and cuisines that identify New Orleans, nothing epitomizes the Crescent City culinary culture like red beans and rice. Once and always a Monday tradition, you can find red beans and rice in just about every restaurant, whenever you want it. This recipe produces creamy style red beans, but just like everything else in New Orleans, there are lots of variations out there.
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
2 1/2 hours 379
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
2 1/2 hours 379
Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage
Sweet Daddy D's Red Beans and Rice
Votes: 2
Rating: 4.5
You:
Rate this recipe!
Print Recipe
Of all the great food and cuisines that identify New Orleans, nothing epitomizes the Crescent City culinary culture like red beans and rice. Once and always a Monday tradition, you can find red beans and rice in just about every restaurant, whenever you want it. This recipe produces creamy style red beans, but just like everything else in New Orleans, there are lots of variations out there.
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
2 1/2 hours 379
Servings Prep Time
8 Servings 30 minutes
Cook Time Calories per Serving
2 1/2 hours 379
Here's What You Need
Herb and Spice Blend
Long Grain Rice
Here's What You Do
Preparation
  1. Soak dry beans in cold water overnight.
  2. Get all the ingredients you'll need together and prepped; set a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid on the stove.
  3. Chop up all your veggies and set aside; Slice sausage into medallions and set aside; Mix the all the Herb and Spice Blend ingredients except the salt (see Recipe Notes) in a small bowl and set this aside also.
Cook 'em Up
  1. Sauté the sausage over medium high heat in the Dutch oven you will use to cook the beans. Once the sausage is browned and some fat is rendered, remove the sausage from the pan and set aside, leaving all the rendered fat in the pan.
  2. Drain the beans and discard the soaking water. Add the soaked beans, the seasoning meat and the bay leaves to the pot and add enough cold water to cover the beans by about an inch; bring to a boil over high heat. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and simmer for an hour. Stir occationally.
  3. After an hour simmering slowly, add the chopped veggies, the browned sausage and about 2/3 of the Herb and Spice Blend without salt (reserving the remainder) to the pot and stir well to mix everything together. If needed, add a little more water to keep the beans just covered. Continue to simmer under medium-low heat uncovered for about 30 minutes. Stir often so they don't stick.
  4. After the 30 minutes uncovered, stir well, lower heat and cover the pot and simmer for another 30 minutes. Stir often because the beans will want to stick to the pot.
  5. After 30 minutes covered, remove the cover and simmer over low heat until the beans are soft and creamy-this should take about 30 minutes but may take up to an hour. Stir often so they don't stick. Add a little more water if they are getting too thick.
  6. While the beans are simmering, cook the rice according to the instructions on the bag or box.
  7. Once the beans are as creamy and tender as you like them- turn off the heat, remove the seasoning meat from the pot (if it has bones); take the meat off the bones and return the meat to the pot. Now is the time to taste for seasoning and salt. Start with about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, stir well and taste. If you think the beans could use more seasoning, add some or all of the reserved Herb and Spice Blend, salt and/or ground black pepper.
  8. Remove the bay leaves and serve over rice.
Quick Review of the Time
  1. As far as the cooking time, it will vary with the beans, but here is a summary: 1 Hour covered with just beans, seasoning meat, bay leaves and cold water covering beans; 1/2 hour uncovered after adding veggies, spices and sausage; 1/2 hour covered; Final 30 minutes to an hour uncovered.
Recipe Notes

Note on salt: Kosher salt to taste-but only at the end-it is recommended not to salt beans until after they are cooked.  Most commercial creole seasoning has salt as doers most seasoning meat. These factors will impact the amount of salt you want to add, so you'll want to wait to see how the flavor is after cooking for a while. 

Note on seasoning meat: The best thing to use is a ham bone left over from a smoked picnic ham. If you don't have that, smoked ham hocks or smoked turkey necks will work well. If you can't find any of that, some chunks of ham with fat on will suffice but if possible get something with a bone. Using something smoked will add a nice, subtle smokiness to the flavor.

Note on Sausage: Using a nice smoked sausage will help impart a wonderful smoky flavor. Substituting Andouille Sausage will also give a nice smoky flavor but with a lot more spice.

Nutrition Facts
Sweet Daddy D's Red Beans and Rice
Amount Per Serving
Calories 379 Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 20g 31%
Saturated Fat 6g 30%
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 655mg 27%
Potassium 314mg 9%
Total Carbohydrates 37g 12%
Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
Sugars 3g
Protein 14g 28%
Vitamin A 3%
Vitamin C 30%
Calcium 9%
Iron 19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
New Orleans Red Beans and Rice - The creamy and smokey New Orleans Tradition is red kidney beans simmered with the Trinity and flavored with sausage and seasoning meats then served over rice. Unbelievably delicious and undeniably simple to make.