Louis Armstrong signed his correspondence “Red Beans & Ricely Yours” after his favorite dish. Most New Orleanians serve it up every Monday. I think nearly everyone has their own way to make it.
My version of red beans and rice comes from my mom who usually doubles or triples her batch so leftovers can be put in the freezer for later meals. Here is a picture of a batch she did recently:
As you can see, she makes a lot! That’s over two gallons of red beans! I don’t even own a pot as big as her cast iron Dutch oven or as many Tupperware containers, so I’m fine with making a smaller batch. I still have enough for leftovers, too.
I don’t use andouille in mine. It may be heretical but I prefer the flavor of smoked pork sausage and I get mine from Jacob’s World’s Famous Cajun Sausage in LaPlace, Louisiana. They smoke all their meat themselves and are super friendly. They even let you taste before you buy!
The small amount of cayenne is the perfect level of heat for my taste. If everyone at your table wants more, up that amount or, do as I do, and put a choice of hot sauce on the table for those who want it hotter.
Mama's Red Beans and Rice
1 lb dried red kidney beans
1 lb smoked pork sausage, cut into coins
3 tablespoons butter
¾ cup onion, diced
¾ cup celery, diced
¾ cup green bell pepper, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt, to taste
Soak the beans over night in a large bowl of water (water should be 2 inches above the top of the beans). Rinse and drain beans and then place in a Dutch oven or large stock pot. Simmer in 4 quarts fresh water until soft, about two or three hours. Use a potato masher to mash some of the beans to thicken the liquid.
Once the beans have softened, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat and sauté the sausage discs. When lightly browned, toss the sausage into the Dutch oven with the beans. Return the skillet to the heat. To the skillet, add in butter. Once melted, sauté onion for about five minutes. Add in the celery and bell pepper and soften slightly. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant. Scrape the trinity into the Dutch oven with the beans. Place bay leaves in pot.
In the still warm skillet, add in all the spices except the salt and stir to let their flavors bloom. Use a ladle of the bean liquid to loosen all the fond and then scrape everything into the pot with the beans. Bring to a simmer and let the flavors come together for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning. Add salt, if desired.
For the rice, I use about ¼ to ⅓ cup uncooked rice per person. Using the ratio of 2 parts liquid to 1 part rice, bring the liquid to a boil. Add a tablespoon of butter per serving, melted into the heating liquid. Pour in the uncooked rice and boil for 20 minutes. Once the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, fluff with a fork.
Place a mound of rice in each serving dish. Ladle red beans, sausage and that delicious bean gravy over the rice. Serve with hot sauce.