Red Beans and Rice

red beans and rice

Food historians say “Red Beans and Rice” is the traditional dinner for Louisiana Mondays because Monday was wash day.  In the days before mechanical washers and dryers, laundry was an all-day affair.  Thus, beans would quietly simmer on the back of the stove, with the ham bone from Sunday dinner and some sausage if available.  At the end of the day, when the laundry was done, the beans were done and would be ladled over rice for a satisfying meal.  It’s still a great dish for me, a work-from-home lawyer.  I can wander downstairs to the kitchen occasionally to tend to the stove and the rest of the time, write briefs at the computer; the meal cooks itself.

I’ve done some tinkering with the traditional recipe.  Instead of cayenne powder, I’ve substituted fresh late-season hot peppers from my potted jalapeno pepper plant.  Also, what’s a dish without beer?  Most recipes add the meats early; I prefer adding them during the last hour of cooking.  Finally, in deference to my Asian background, which demands multi-colored food, I add a generous amount of chopped parsley and green onions just before serving.  Laissez les bon temp roulez! 

  • 8 oz small dried red beans, soaked in cold water overnight then drained
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • ½ onion chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 4 small fresh hot peppers, stem and seeds removed and  minced (use latex or vinyl gloves if you are sensitive to hot peppers)
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 12-oz bottle beer
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ½ pound ham diced (save bone and fat, if any)
  • ½ pound smoked sausage, diced
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Steamed white rice

 Heat up the oil in a large pot and add onion, celery, green pepper and hot peppers.  Stir frequently until onion is translucent.  Add garlic, bay leaves, thyme, drained beans, beer and water.  If you have a ham bone and some fat from the ham, add them to the pot too.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium low and cover.  Simmer 2 hours, stirring occasionally.  If mixture gets too thick and starts to stick to the pan, lower the heat some more and add some more water.  After two hours, use a potato masher to mash some of the beans to give them a creamy consistency.  Alternatively, you could spoon about 1/3 of the mixture into a blender, blend it and then return it to the pot, mixing the contents well.  Add diced ham and sausage and cook 1 hour more until mixture is thick and soupy.  Add more water if needed. Remove ham bone and bay leaves.   Add salt and pepper to taste, stir in green onions and parsley and ladle over steamed rice.  Serves 4.

 You can easily double this recipe.  I made it in small quantities because there are only two of us and one set of leftovers for lunch the next day is all we need.

 red beans and rice ingredients

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