Every. Monday. New Orleans families serve red beans and rice for dinner. Every family’s red beans is different, and everyone has a different method of cooking them. Some people swear by soaking them overnight about 12 hours, “to get the gas out” or to cut down on cooking time. Others add extra bay leaf for the same reason. My family is in the latter camp, and this recipe takes about 2-2.5 hrs tops. This is my grandma’s recipe; we rarely ever bothered to make our own.
In a vegetarian variation, I simply omit the meat and add extra seasoning to taste, everything else is largely the same. Serves 8-12.
1/2 lb of smoked meat (optional, smoked turkey necks or legs OR slab bacon cut into cubes OR traditionally, ham or picklemeat)
1 lb dried red beans, washed/rinsed
1 large onion
1/2 bell pepper (optional, preferred in veggie)
1/2 pod of garlic, to taste
4-5 bay leaves
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lb smoked sausage
salt and pepper to taste
1 heaping tsp of sugar
1. Cover the beans in a pot with about 5 inches of water, add smoked meat, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer.
2. Sautee finely chopped onions, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil. When onions are clear, add them to the simmering beans. Bring heat back up to a low boil for 15-20 minutes or so then reduce heat to a simmer again and cook for approximately 1 hour. Stir occasionally to avoid sticking.
3. Add salt and pepper, bay leaves, and sugar to taste.
4. Slice smoke sausage into half-inch rounds, add to beans. Simmer for another 20-30 minutes or until beans are thick and creamy. The smoked sausage adds a strong extra meaty flavor to the beans… some folks prefer to BBQ the sauasage and serve on the side…
Serve over your favorite rice (I prefer brown), with hot sauce to taste. Some folks like to put a mayo or mustard dollop in the beans as a garnish (I think it’s because their parents really couldn’t cook that well). I like mine plain and good, w/Tabasco and a slice of french bread. They’re also extra delicious and creamy on the second day, after they’ve had a chance to cool, and great to freeze and reheat.