Red beans and rice is a full meal

Red beans and rice is a full meal

A great thing about learning about food is the almost limitless variety of ways to approach it. You can choose a continent or country and immerse yourself in learning its cuisine and how it is tied to that region.

You can choose a single spice and trace its origins and the way it has scattered across the globe, how and where it is used and why. You can choose a culture and explore what they’ve eaten and why. This kind of focus can be broad or narrow.

You could follow the history of the Amish, for example, and how the dishes we associate with them came to be and why they’re still in currency today, though I can’t imagine a more boring pursuit than finding out why noodles are on every Amish buffet.

New Orleans, Louisiana may warrant as much culinary interest as any place on earth. There’s the romance of the French Quarter and the influence of French, Gullah, Creole and Caribbean cuisines. There’s the tremendous history of the city, Anne Rice’s rich vampire lore and, of course, the music.

There are a lot of dishes associated with that part of the U.S. A crawfish or crab boil should be on your bucket list. How can you resist something that gets dumped out onto a newspaper-covered picnic table on a central pile for all to pick through?

There’s etouffee, pralines, and red beans and rice. Red beans and rice is perhaps one of the main dishes associated with Louisiana and New Orleans. Louis Armstrong loved it so much he signed his letters “red beans and ricely yours, Louis.”

It’s a full meal with lots of red kidney beans, of course, but also andouille sausage, plenty of spice and a sauce formed during cooking. The whole business is served over a bed of fluffy white rice.


Spice mix:

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

3/4 tablespoon kosher salt

3/4 tablespoon garlic powder

3/4 tablespoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

For the beans:

2 cups dried red kidney beans

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

14 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

6 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons spice mix, above

2 smoked ham hocks

6 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 dried bay leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Plain steamed white rice, for serving

Place the beans in a large bowl and cover with water by 1 inch. Let soak overnight to soften.

The next day, heat a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the oil, and when it is hot enough to shimmer, add the sausage and cook until browned well, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the sausage from the pan, place in a bowl and allow to cool in the refrigerator.

Without cleaning the pot, add onions, pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until softened, about 6 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the spice mix and cook another 3 minutes, until fragrant. Drain the beans and add to the pot, then the stock, ham hocks, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then immediately reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 2 hours or until the beans are tender. They may require 3 hours, depending on how old they are.

When the beans are tender, remove about 1 cup of them from the pot and add to a food processor or blender. Remove the ham hocks to a cutting board. Process the beans until quite smooth, then return them to the pot. Remove as much of the meager meat from the hocks as you can and chop it up a bit. Add the sausage and the meat from the hocks to the pot. Simmer a moment until well blended. Serve over white rice.

Loading next article...

End of content

No more pages to load