Red Beans and Rice

Story by Holly
Red Beans and Rice
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This Red Beans and Rice recipe, made with hearty ham and spicy sausage, is the perfect way to bring some New Orleans flavor to your dinner table. And, although this recipe takes a few more steps than our regular weeknight dinners, we promise you it is worth the effort.

In New Orleans, Red Beans & Rice started with the tradition of a ham cooked up for Sunday supper. Homemakers would then use the ham bone leftover from Sunday and throw it into a pot to boil for hours on end with red beans. The result was a Monday dinner dish so full of flavor that a tradition was born.

Today, rather than cooking a Sunday ham, I’m more likely to head to my local grocery store to buy a ham hock, a little smoked ham, and some sausage to add to the New Orlean’s holy trinity (bell pepper, onion, and celery) and red beans. When it’s red beans and rice day in my home I love the slow pace that dinner takes. Our home fills with amazing smells as all that goodness spends the day boiling away on the stove. It really is the best way to beat the Monday Blues (or make any other day all the better for that matter).  

Red Beans and Rice

How do you make authentic red beans and rice? 

To be completely honest, I can’t vouch as to the authenticity of this recipe. When we researched this dish we found many different variations that claim to be traditional, and we did our best to do justice to the classic dish. We believe the results speak for themselves and this version of red beans and rice is one your family will come to crave, just as mine now does. For what it’s worth, my personal belief is that if you are simmering this dish over the stove for hours and cooking it on a Monday, you are doing it right! 

How do you make easy red beans and rice? 

 I’m just gonna come out and say it...this red beans and rice dish takes some time to cook, although I can’t say I mind. It’s a relaxing dish to make and I love that my whole house smells delicious all day long. The length of time says nothing about the ease of the steps to arrive at the final dish, however, as the process is really quite easy.  

  • Boil the dry beans in a pot with water until tender but not cooked all the way through- about 45 minutes. 
  • While the beans are boiling, sauté celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic. 
  • Drain the beans and place them in a pot with the ham hock and the onion-garlic mixture.
  • Add spices and just enough water to cover everything in the pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 2-3 hours. 
  • Sauté ham and sausage and add it all into the pot of beans. 
  • Serve over white rice along side pickled okra and louisiana hot sauce and don’t forget the beer!  

What is the best way to cook red beans and rice? 

You may see some recipes out there for red beans and rice made in a pressure cooker or slow cooker. Feel free to try these methods, but in my opinion there is only one way to cook red beans and rice...by simmering them in a pot over the stove for hours. 

What kind of beans are used for red beans and rice?  

You might think that red beans and kidney beans are the same. I am here to tell you that they are, in fact, actually different types of beans. What’s the main difference you might ask? Kidney beans are a little bit darker and slightly larger than the red bean variety. 

We prefer to use the smaller, rounder, red beans in this recipe, however it will taste just as good with either bean. The flavor is not distinguishable. 

What else can you add to red beans and rice? 

Red beans and rice truly is a stand alone dish. However, once you’ve got the method down, you can afford to get a little creative. Here are some things we love to add: 

  • Cajun seasoning (a must!)
  • Andouille sausage (not to be left out)
  • Fresh parsley or green onions (for serving)
  • Pickled okra (for serving) 
  • Chicken stock (for even more flavor)
  • Pulled pork or leftover ham

What goes well with red beans and rice? 

That’s an easy one...cornbread and a nice cold beer, all the way. I’ve read that traditionally, red beans and rice is served with a baguette in New Orleans. While that sounds delicious, I personally prefer the southern roots of cornbread. You could also add a side of collard or mustard greens, green beans or corn on the cob. Holy smokes, I’m hungry. 

For bonus points from your friends and family, be sure to pick up a 6 pack of a nice brown ale and don’t forget the Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce! 

If you make these Red Beans and Rice, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper if you do. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe!

Red Beans and Rice

Serves 6

Ingredients

1 lb dried red beans, rinsed
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
3 tbsp garlic, minced
1 large ham hock
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
2 tsp creole seasoning
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped (plus more for serving)
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 lb smoked ham, diced
1/2 lb Andouille sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 Louisiana hot sausage, cut on the bias
1 jar pickled okra, for serving (optional)
Louisiana hot sauce (like crystal), for serving (optional)
1 cooked white rice

Method

  1. Place the beans in a large pot. Fill the pot of beans with water, double the beans volume. Bring to a boil. Boil the beans for 45 minutes making sure the beans are always covered in water. The beans should be tender with a little bite left in them.
  2. While the beans are boiling, sauté celery, onion and bell pepper in 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large pan. When onions begin to soften add the garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent about 10 minutes. Set aside.
  3. After the beans are done boiling, drain them and place the ham hock into the bottom of the pot. Add the onion-garlic mixture to the pot along with the beans. Add spices. Salt, pepper, thyme, bay leaves, worcestershire sauce, parsley and Creole seasoning. Add just enough water to cover everything in the pot. Bring to a boil them simmer for 2-3 hours. During this time the beans will release starch which will turn the water and seasoning into a rich gravy. How “wet” the sauce is depends on your liking. If it gets too sticky, add water ¼ cup at a time.
  4. While the red beans are melding with the deliciousness and making the sauce, add the last tablespoon of olive oil to the pan that was used for veggies. Sauté ham and sausage until slightly brown on all edges. During the last hour of simmering add it all to the pot of beans.
  5. Serve over white rice along side pickled okra, Louisiana hot sauce and of course good corn bread.