Mondays in the South (also considered Laundry Day) have been traditional days to prepare Red Beans and Rice. This dish is super easy to prepare and once mastered, can sit on the back burner of your range and cook slowly for most of the day. For me it’s comfort food. We no longer have a standard Laundry Day, so I cook Traditional Red Beans and Rice when it’s cold outside or when I’m just craving the flavor. Recently, I made this before shoveling snow for two hours. Words fail to describe how good the house smelled when I came back in.
Traditional Red Beans and Rice
- 1 lb red beans washed, cleaned and soaked overnight covered by water in the refrigerator. (Discard soaking water before use)
- 3-4 strips bacon, (cooked in the pot to be used for beans), removed and chopped to add back midway in the cooking process
- 1 cup onions, white or yellow diced
- 1 cup celery stalks, diced
- 1 cup green pepper, diced (Green bell pepper is traditional, but I prefer fresh poblano pepper)
- 2 cups green onion, finely sliced and divided in half cup portions + more for garnish (1 cup during cooking and 1 cup after cooking)
- ¼ cup garlic, minced
- 1 whole bay leaf (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp each salt and black pepper
- 2 cup diced ham (Any good quality ham will do, but pickled ham is super traditional)
- 2 quarts chicken stock or more if needed
- 1 lb Andouille pre-cooked sausage, halved and sliced (Polish Kielbasa and Portuguese Lingua sausage make great substitutes.)
- ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- ⅓ cup butter, good quality like Plugra or Kerrygold
- 1½ cup rice (basmati works great or Geechie Boy Mill Carolina Gold Rice)
- 3 cups chicken stock
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ cup fresh scallions, chopped (added after the rice is cooked)
Dried beans are a raw agricultural product and need to be washed and picked over for any foreign objects like sticks, pebbles or clods of dirt. Wash and rinse the beans in cold water. Once the beans are clean, place them in a large pot or bowl and cover them with 2 inches of fresh cold water. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the beans and reserve.
Peel and core the onions, and chop finely.
Wash and finely chop the celery.
Core and seed the green pepper and finely chop.
Thinly slice the green onion (scallions), remove the roots and separate into two portions.
Peel the garlic, smash with the side of a knife and finely chop. Reserve.
Leave the bay leaf whole so you can remove this at the end.
Measure out the cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and add to the raw vegetable mixture.
Prepare the pot for the beans by cooking 3-4 strips of bacon over medium heat. Once the bacon has cooked remove from the pot, chop and reserve to add later.
While the pot is still hot, add the onions, celery, green pepper, 1 cup green onion, garlic, seasonings (cayenne, salt & pepper) to the rendered bacon drippings. Stir to mix the ingredients well. Continue cooking until the onion and vegetables are soft.
Once the vegetable mixture is tender, add the clean pre-soaked beans. Stir the beans into the vegetable mixture.
Add the diced ham and reserved chopped bacon from earlier.
Add 2 quarts of chicken stock or enough to completely cover the beans by ½-¾ inch. Bring the pot to a boil (or follow the instructions on a pressure cooker). Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 2 ½ hours, or more, stirring occasionally. Test a bean or two to determine doneness. The beans should be very soft.
When the beans are cooked, remove from the heat and remove the bay leaf. Measure out 1-1½ cups of beans with juice and add to a blender container. Place the lid and puree until smooth. Add this back to the original pot of red beans and stir to incorporate. This will help thicken the traditional red beans properly.
Add the chopped parsley, 1 cup fresh scallions, andouille sausage and stir to incorporate. The traditional red beans will still have enough residual heat to warm up sliced pre-cooked andouille sausage. Reserve and keep warm.
Rice (If you use an artisan rice like Carolina Gold follow the instructions on the packaging.) Otherwise, use 2 cups water/stock to 1 cup rice ratio.
In a large pot over medium heat, melt the butter.
Add the rice and stir to coat evenly.
Add the stock and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight fitting lid.
Cook the rice for 20 minutes and turn off the heat completely, leaving the lid on. Allow the rice to sit covered for 5 minutes.
Add the chopped scallions and mix into the rice. Reserve.
Present the dish by packing a ramekin with cooked rice. Place the ramekin in the center of a serving bowl upside down. Ladle the red beans around the ramekin and then carefully remove it leaving the rice in the center.
Garnish (optional) with crumbled cornbread and more scallions. I like to offer my guests a choice of Louisiana hot sauces (Tabasco, Crystal, D.a.T. Sauce) and gumbo file' on the side.