Wash Day

Wash Day
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As mothers of small children we are constantly doing laundry. It is a very mundane yet extremely necessary task that never seems to end. But laundry doesn’t have to be an everyday nuisance. Try dedicating one day a week to it and see what happens. It may take a little longer, but knocking out 7 loads of laundry will leave you with more than just clean clothes—you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and you may actually begin to look forward to wash-day.

In New Orleans, Red Beans & Rice started with the tradition of a ham cooked up for Sunday supper followed by wash-day on Monday. Homemakers would use the ham bone left over from Sunday and throw it into a pot to boil for hours on end with red beans meanwhile striping beds and getting all of the wash done.

We love learning new things about how our ancestors kept their houses and we intend to implement them into our own lives.

We love learning new things about how our ancestors kept their houses and we intend to implement them into our own lives. We may not cook up a ham for every sunday supper, but a ham hock, red beans, sausage and the holy trinity of New Orleans (bell pepper, onion and celery) boiling on the stove all day really sounds like the best way to beat the laundry blues. Not only will we be wearing clean clothes and sleeping on clean sheets, but we’ll have a big pot of soul food to show for it.

Wash Day
Wash Day

If you like a good excuse to gather friends and family, make up a pot or two of these red beans and rice, add a batch of cornbread, and throw a Mardi Gras party next week. While the beans cook, you’ll have more than enough time to get your whole house clean for your guests. Don’t forget to have someone swing by and grab some beer, it is Fat Tuesday after all.

Wash Day

Red Beans and Rice

Serves 6


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


  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 and louisiana hot sauce.