In New Orleans, red beans and rice is a Monday dish.
Monday used to be washing day, and red beans could simmer (with a little leftover meat from Sunday’s ham) all day, while mamas attended to the laundry. I’m sure those mamas didn’t love washing day, but to be honest, I’d LOVE a Monday with nothing to do but the laundry and simmering some red beans. Lacking the opportunity to spend the day in domestic pursuits, though, I make do by quick boiling the beans in the morning while I’m making our lunches, then leaving the beans to soak all day while I’m at work. Once home, I can bring them back to a simmer and add the goodies that make Creole red beans such a savory dish.
My Red Beans & Rice
2 lb bags of red beans (small red beans or red kidney beans, and in a pinch, pintos are fine)
Rinse the beans and use the quick boil method described on the bag – soak – once you’re ready to cook them, bring them to a simmer and add:
Salt – I never know how much
3-4 cloves of fresh garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 of a yellow onion, coarsely chopped
2 tsp of ground cayenne pepper
A few splashes of pepper sauce*
After an hour, add the optional meat that will sorta blow your meat-free Monday, but not by too much. It’s not like you’re eating a hamburger. We use Andouille sausage, but I gotta tell you, you’re only making my recipe if you’re lucky enough to have Andouille from Jacob’s in La Place, LA, just outside New Orleans. If you don’t have this Andouille, I’m sorry. Go ahead and make red beans but know they’re not the thing I’m talking about here.
If you need some, you’ll have to find a way to entice my mother-in-law to visit you. Nearby outlet malls are your best bet.
So add around 1 cup of cubed Andouille sausage, and let it simmer another hour or so. Or until the beans are done – soft and spicy, and the liquid is cooked down to the consistency of gravy. It’s better, in my opinion, to over cook, because you can stir in some water to thin the gravy, but soupy beans are just a disappointment cured only by more cooking.
I prefer brown rice to white, but usually forget it takes twice as long to cook. So that solves the problem of not cooking the beans long enough – I put the rice on, and set the whole schedule back 20 more minutes to accommodate the 40 minute cooking time of brown rice. When it’s all done, ladle beans over the rice, and top with hot sauce (Crystal or Tabasco, if you want it to taste like New Orleans).
The nice thing is, this meal is ready when it’s ready. If you need to eat earlier, you should cook this on a weekend or get home from work by 4. I get home around 6, so plan on eating around 9:30. City people eat later. I imagine in New Orleans on washing day, you’d have eaten, napped off the heat and headed out for a drink by 9:30.
I’m also going to make rice pudding. You’ll find out why tomorrow.
* We make our own pepper sauce: several fresh jalapenos, and habeneros if you really like it hot, a little onion and a lot of peppercorns in a recycled hot sauce bottle, pour boiling vinegar over them and let them sit a couple weeks. Then go to town, I use this in everything!
Photo © Photographer: Diana Lundin