Red Beans and Rice Recipe
Monday was historically the "wash day" for the week in New Orleans. The woman of the house would cook a pot of red beans while she tended to laundry duties because the meal required little hands-on attention. The beans would be seasoned with the left-over hambone from Sunday's traditional ham supper. Today, red beans and rice is a staple in homes and restaurants around the state. It is a common Monday special in both fine dining and casual eateries. Read more about this tradition here: A Brief History of Red Beans.
While Monday isn't necessarily wash day anymore, we know it can still be hectic with getting the week started. Try this classic recipe for red beans and rice to ease yourself back into the work week, while impressing your family and friends.
Red Beans and Rice Recipe:
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or bacon drippings
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers
- 1/2 cup chopped celery
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 pound boiled or baked ham cut, into 1/2-inch cubes
- 6 ounces smoked sausage, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices
- 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted through, soaked overnight and drained
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 8 to 10 cups water
- Cooked white rice
Method of Preparation:
Heat the oil/drippings in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt, cayenne, black pepper and thyme for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham and sausage and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beans, garlic, and enough water to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 2 hours. Add more water if the mixture becomes dry and thick. Mash about half of the mixture against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon to add thickness. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours. The mixture should be creamy and the beans soft. Add more water if it becomes too thick. The finished product should be soupy, not watery. Remove the bay leaves and serve over cooked white rice.
Serve as a main dish or add grilled sausage or a piece of fried chicken on the side to round out the meal.