Red Beans and Rice

Ah, the national Monday food of Louisiana, red beans can be put on the back of an already hot stove (behind the wash water pots) and ignored all Monday. Toss in several handfulls of rice just before supper time, and all is ready. Plus you can add in any leftover bits of meat or ham bones and so on from Sunday dinner if you have them.

Last week, I found the tail end of a sack of red-beans-n-rice mix, chopped up some andouille sausage, and tossed in some other veggies toward the end of cooking. The flavor was good, but I think I found four red beans in three cups of rice. That’s not really red-beans-n-rice.

So if you are doing the old fashioned version, soak a pound of dried red beans overnight, changing the water once or twice. If you are doing a modern version, open and drain two cans of red beans (total of 30 ounces).

In addition to the beans you need:

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 medium green bell-pepper, chopped fine.

2 sticks of celery, chopped fine (or you can buy the frozen veggie blend in a bag if you live in a place where the Holy Trinity is in high demand)

6-8 cups of water (less if you use canned beans)


garlic to taste

1 bay leaf

thyme, dried parsley, other pot herbs to taste (I’d avoid sage, but that’s just me)

pepper sauce like Tabasco

leftover meat, or a pound of good, spicy sausage chopped into chunks. Or skip the meat.

1 1/2 cup white rice (or brown, but keep in mind that brown takes longer to cook)

Filé powder if so inclined (not traditional but I had cousins who liked to add it)

Sautee onion, bell-pepper, celery, and garlic in a heavy pot. I use olive oil with a bit of garlic flavor, but whatever you have on hand is good. You want the onions translucent, but not brown. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot, along with dried parsley, a bay leaf, thyme, and anything else you think you’d like. I add two shakes of chipotle powder (dried smoked jalapeno pepper). Other people use “Cajun spice” blend and two shakes of Tabasco sauce (Louisiana kind, not Tabasco Mexico kind). Stir until well blended, add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Once it boils, turn down the heat to medium low, cover, and ignore while you do other chores.

Check on the beans and stir every so often. After an hour or so, add the sausage, bring it back to a boil, then return to a simmer and keep ignoring as you do more chores. I prefer my beans a little soupy, but you might like drier. If so, as the rice cooks, leave the lid off the beans and stir so they lose some moisture.

After two and a half hours, or longer, check everything, adjust water and spices as needed, and start the rice (if using white rice) cook rice until done. Serve rice with red beans, a shake of filé if you want some, and more pepper sauce.

Makes a lot.


11 thoughts on “Red Beans and Rice

  1. Many years ago I attended grad school in Birmingham, Alabama. There was a walk-up lunch bar that was locally famous for its red beans and rice. My fellow students from upstate New York couldn’t understand why people would stand in line to get this local favorite. I just smiled and kept eating.

    • You can use kidney beans, or use red beans, which are smaller and rounder, with a milder, slightly nutty flavor. Kidney beans need to be soaked and then parboiled, then cooked again if you use them in red-beans-and-rice, because of a toxin in the skins. Slow cooking doesn’t break down the toxin. Red beans (small round ones) don’t need that. Or just use canned kidney beans.

      • My mom’s “trick” with kidneybeans in a slow cooker was to keep switching it between high and low– our slowcooker would simmer on high, if you left it long enough, so you’d have it simmering for HOURS when we were riding.

        A lot of folks get sick from soak-until-soft-then-warm-up kidney beans, yeah. 😦

        I like the ‘small black beans’ better than either of them, but small red beans are just as good as kidneys, and so much easier to cook.

        Funny thing, look at the name for the bean. 😀

  2. Jasini, small red beans, look about like black turtle beans but dark or light red.

    My varient. Before bed, put four cups of washed dry red beans in 8 qt crockpot, fill with water, turn on low.
    In the morning, drain and rinse crockpot and beans. Return beans to crockpot, add four cups washed brown rice and eight cups of water, a jar of chilli sauce plus another jar of water. (It’s a pint jar, but I want the rinsings in.) Add your sausage, meat, veggies, what-have-you. Set on low.

    Dinner for nine (includes four teen men) at two.

  3. Walmart usually carries the Camellia brand. The small reds are the ‘correct’ bean for red beans and rice. And “like Tabasco”??? Heresy!!! Tabasco IS the correct hot sauce! 😉

  4. In the household, “garlic to taste” would mean “garlic and rice, with maybe some red beans”. I’ve been asked again to plant a bed of garlic, and I hope it’s enough.

  5. I grew up on red beans and rice. At 75 and a very sensitive diabetic, I can’t eat either. Enjoy for me, please!

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