Red Beans and Rice
(American Creole bean and rice dish)
Image © iStockphoto
This deeply satisfying, yet simple dish is an old staple in Louisiana Creole kitchens. Based on the bean and rice dishes of the Caribbean, red beans and rice formed the perfect Monday supper. Monday was traditionally wash day, and the beans could simmer on the stove with little attention, richly flavored with the addition of leftovers from the Sunday meal.
6 to 8 servings
- Red or kidney beans, picked over and rinsed -- 1 pound
- Bacon, chopped -- 3 slices
- Onion, finely chopped -- 1
- Green bell peppers, finely chopped -- 2
- Celery, finely chopped -- 4 stalks
- Garlic, minced -- 4 or 5 cloves
- Stock or water -- 1 quart
- Smoked ham hock -- 1
- Parsley, finely chopped -- 2 tablespoons
- Thyme -- 2 teaspoons
- Bay leaves -- 2 each
- Cayenne pepper -- pinch
- Salt and pepper -- to season
- Hot cooked rice -- 6 cups
- Scallions, thinly sliced (optional) -- 1 bunch
- Tabasco or Crystal hot sauce -- to taste
- Place the beans in a large pot and add water to cover the beans by a few inches. Set aside in a cool place and let soak for 12 to 18 hours.
- Heat the bacon in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high flame until the bacon is lightly crispy and renders most of its fat. Add the onions, peppers, celery and garlic and saute until cooked through and the onion is translucent.
- Drain the soaked beans and add them to the pot, along with the stock or water, ham hock, parsley, thyme, bay leaves and cayenne. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 1 1/2 hours.
- When the beans are tender and creamy use a large spoon to smash some of them against the side of the pot to thicken the sauce a bit. Season to taste with salt and pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
- Stir in half the scallions and serve the beans over portions of rice. Sprinkle servings with the remaining scallions and serve with hot sauce for seasoning.
Red Beans and Rice Variations
- Meats: Make red beans and rice a whole meal by adding chopped ham, tasso or andouille sausages to the simmering beans during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Or you can cook the meat separately and serve it on the side. Sauteed pork chops are a popular accompaniment.
- To make your beans even richer, stir 4 tablespoons of melted butter into the beans just before serving.