Today is the official first day of autumn, and I’m loving it already! To a lot of Southerners, autumn means football season, tailgating, and the smell of lots of comfort food. And, to those of us who have grown up in the New Orleans area, Monday means the delicious smell of “Red Beans and Rice”.
If you aren’t familiar with this NOLA history, “wash day” was traditionally on Monday. Back in the days before washing machines existed, the chore of washing clothes by hand required long hours, and there wasn’t a lot of time available to spend preparing a meal in the Kitchen. This image below of a primitive Louisiana Folk Art painting, by the late Clementine Hunter, is appropriately named ‘Wash Day’, and is a colorful visual history of the tradition hand-washing clothes outdoors.
Since red beans can be cooked slowly all day long without much effort or attention, the local tradition of making red beans and rice on Mondays became a ritual. With that, families typically had a large Sunday dinner, oftentimes including a ham, and the leftover hambone or any leftover meat would be used in the red beans and rice dish.
Even if it’s not during the work week, I usually use a crock pot whenever I make red beans and rice. The recipe I use always includes the ‘trinity’ (onions, celery, and bell pepper), ‘the pope’ (garlic), three bay leaves, and a little lagniappe of other spices.
For meat in the recipe, I’ll typically include pickled pork or cubed seasoned ham, and smoked sausage or Andouille.
And, I like to serve it with either hot buttered crusty French bread or corn bread muffins. Whenever your time in the kitchen is limited because of work, school, or after-school activities, this is a good crock pot recipe for a hearty home-cooked meal for your family and friends. It’s also a freezer-friendly and economical meal to prepare. I think you’ll enjoy this comfort food dish any day of the week, especially on Mondays.
- 1 (1-pound) package dried Camellia Brand Red Kidney Beans, rinsed well, sorted over, and soaked overnight
- 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
- 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, (remove seeds) chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, (remove seeds) chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
- 3 rings mild banana peppers, (remove seeds) chopped
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Cajun or Creole seasoning, Slap Ya Mama and Tony Chachere’s brands are both very good
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt, according to your taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- ½ pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound pickled pork, rinsed and cut into cubes
- 7 cups water
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups cooked white rice, Mahatma Extra Long Grain or Success Boil-in-a-Bag Rice brands are both very good
- ¼ cup chopped green onions, garnish
- ½ teaspoon Tabasco hot sauce, optional
Before soaking or cooking your beans, always rinse and sort them. Pour the beans into a large bowl and remove any debris such as rocks, dirt, or imperfect beans. Cover beans with water, almost to the top of the bowl. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. The beans will almost double in size. After soaking beans, drain them in a colander, discarding water, and then rinse the beans well. You can also check out Camellia Brand’s instructions on How to Soak Your Beans on their blog.
- Combine first 14 ingredients and 7 cups water in a 4-1/2 quart crock pot / slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH 7 hours, or until beans are tender.
- Once cooked, remove bay leaves (if you can find them all). To thicken the beans, add 2 tablespoons flour (fried, like a mini light roux). Add this to beans and stir for a minute. Also, with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about ¼ of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are creamy, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Serve red beans over hot fluffy rice in a wide shallow bowl. Top with a good amount of hot sausage slices.
- Garnish with green onions, and sprinkle with a little hot sauce, if you’d like.
Along with good crusty French bread or corn bread, perfect compliments to this meal are a simple vinaigrette salad or coleslaw. Enjoy with a big glass of iced tea, or your favorite liquid refreshment. Make sure to freeze any leftovers to enjoy later!
Do you have any personal tricks or tips for making red beans and rice that you’d like to share? Do tell!