Red beans and rice are a signature of N’awlins Cajun cuisine and now you can make it as delicious as the classic.
In New Orleans, Sunday is traditionally ham night, and on Monday, wash day, the leftover ham and the ham bone are used to make Red Beans and Rice. This traditional Creole stew can be prepped quickly and, when made with dried beans, simmers away lazily for several hours. It has been thus forever. Even the estimable Louis Armstrong signed his autograph “Red beans and ricely yours”.
Among the classic ingredients are andouille sausage, a ham bone, and pickled pork or ham. Andouille (pronounced on-DWEE) sausage is the spicy local Cajun classic made of coarsely ground pork, chopped onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, cracked black pepper, natural casing, and then it is smoked. The marrow in the ham bone adds flavor and richness. Pickled pork is common in New Orleans, but a little harder to find elsewhere. It is made by boiling cubes of fresh pork in vinegar, spices, and Prague powder #1 (a source of sodium nitrite, a preservative). I have done what most of the locals now do, substituted chopped ham and for the fun of it, tossed in some bacon in my recipe.
When I was a student at the University of Florida, subsisting on hot dogs mixed in a can of baked beans, we would often do weekend road trips to New Orleans, and that’s where I had my first taste of the local stew. I can still taste “the world’s best Beanie Wienies” as I described it to my friends. It was an early awakening that you could riff on a recipe and make something special.
Good ole Zatarains
A reader named Larry Gault says “A little secret I found out about in an odd, out in the middle of the sugar cane field restaurant somewhere between Baton Rouge and N’awlins. I had never been able to get that *just* right taste that these folks did in their little establishment which looked like a sharecropper’s shack from the outside but was very nice on the inside. With Colonial Sugar being an account that I called on regularly, I made as close friends with the wonderful old black woman who did their cooking as I possibly could. When I was telling her about my tale of woe in pursuit of the perfect red beans and rice recipe, she looked at me and asked if I was rememberin’ to put the two capfuls of Zatarain’s Concentrated Liquid Crab & Shrimp Boil in twenty minutes before they were done. Liquid crab boil? Yep. Nails it to the wall. Also zips up soups and gumbos nicely as well.”
Enjoy a taste of New Orleans with this recipe for classic red beans and rice! In New Orleans, Sunday is ham night, and on Monday, the leftover ham and the ham bone are used to make Red Beans and Rice, a traditional Creole stew that can be prepped quickly and simmers for several hours before diving in.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Cajun, Southern
Prep Time: 40minutes
Cook Time: 2hours
215-ouncecans of red beans, drained and rinsed(kidney)
About the beans. If you plan to use dried beans, as the do in NOLA, follow the instructions in my article The Science of Beans for prep instructions.About the meats. None of these quantities is set in concrete. You can add more of any, or leave something out. But don't skip the ham bone.About the bacon. Although it adds flavor, it is here mainly for the oil needed to brown the meats and cook the trinity. You can skip it and just use 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. If you do skip the bacon, try to use a ham hock instead of the ham bone so you can get that smoky flavor.About the sausage. There is no exact substitute for good andouille, so make a serious effort to find some. If you can't use a smoked sausage such as kielbasa and add a little more hot sauce.About the cured ham. You can buy a cured ham steak and chop it up or just use leftover ham from Easter.About the salt. Remember, kosher salt is half the concentration of table salt so if you use table salt, use half as much. Click here to read more about salt and how it works.Optional seasonings. Some folks like to add cumin an/or chile powder, parsley is common, and cilantro is often used. Worcestershire is occasionally added too.Nontraditional, but... Red Beans & Rice is a classic stew, so most of the flavors melt together and only the andouille stands out. To give it a bit of brightness, I like to chop in some sweet bell pepper, red or green, about 30 minutes before serving. I then like to sprinkle green onions, jalapeños, and tomatoes just before serving. They really give things a nice freshness and a bit of texture. If you want crunch, croutons or oyster crackers are nice. I like to sprinkle Frank's Hot Sauce on it at table side.Leftovers. If there is any left over, you can just dump the beans and rice together in the fridge. When it is time to reheat you can refry with a little oil in a pan, and add a little water. I like to brighten the flavors with fresh peppers, tomato, onion, and maybe a splash of lemon juice.
Prep. Prepare all of the red beans and rice ingredients, starting by cutting the andouille sausage into 1/2-inch rounds. Chop the onions and celery. Press the garlic. Chop the Roma tomatoes.
Prep the optional garnishes by first chopping the green onion. Remove the stem and seeds from the jalapeños and finely chop. Chop the Roma tomatoes into 1/2-inch chunks. Refrigerate garnishes until ready to serve.
Cook. In a 4 quart pot, cook the bacon over medium high heat.
When some fat renders, add the sausage and ham, and brown them. If the bottom looks like it might burn, add an ounce or two of water to loosen the meat bits and scrub them off with a wooden spoon.
When the water is gone, add the onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and black pepper and stir occasionally until the vegetables are limp, scraping all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
Add 2 cups of water, the tomatoes, chicken broth, vinegar, hot sauce, beans, and the smoked ham hock. Crank up the heat, bring everything to a boil and back it down to a simmer. Let it simmer, uncovered, about 1 to 2 hours. If it gets too thick, add some water or broth. If it is too runny, continue simmering to thicken it or add more beans.
With a ladle or a large spoon, mash about 20 percent of the beans against the bottom or side of the pot. Remove the bay leaves and hock. Peel any meat you can get off the hock and toss it back in, discard the bone and bay leaf.
Taste and adjust the salt, vinegar, and hot sauce to your preference. Turn to low. If you're going to brighten it with fresh chopped peppers, now's the time to add them.
Serve. Spoon the rice in the center of a plate, top with the stew, and garnish.
If there is any left over, you can just dump the beans and rice together in the fridge. When it is time to reheat you can refry with a little oil in a pan, and add a little water. I like to brighten the flavors with fresh peppers, tomato, onion, and maybe a splash of lemon juice.
Meathead - Founder and publisher of AmazingRibs.com, Meathead is known as the site's Hedonism Evangelist and BBQ Whisperer. He is also the author of the New York Times Best Seller "Meathead, The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling", named one of the "100 Best Cookbooks of All Time" by Southern Living.
A big part of this site is our unbiased equipment and product reviews. We love playing with toys and we have no problem calling them the way we see them. Some companies pay a finder’s fee if a reader clicks a link on AmazingRibs.com and buys a product. It has zero impact on our reviews, zero impact on the price you pay, and the sites never tell us what you bought, but it has a major impact on our ability to keep this site alive! So before you buy, please click our links. Here’s a link that takes you to a page on Amazon that has some of our favorite tools and toys: https://tinyurl.com/amazingribs
Surely you know somebody who loves outdoor cooking who deserves a gift for the holidays, birthday, anniversary, or just for being wonderful. There he is, right in the mirror! Here are our selections of best ideas, all Platinum or Gold Medalists, listed by price.
Bring The Heat With Broil King Signet’s Dual Tube Burners
The Broil King Signet 320 is a modestly priced, 3-burner gas grill that packs a lot of value and power under the hood. Broil King’s proprietary, dual-tube burners get hot fast and are able to achieve high, searing temps that rival most comparatively priced gas grills. The quality cast aluminum housing carries a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
GrillGrates(TM) amplify heat, prevent flareups, make flipping foods easier, kill hotspots, flip over to make a fine griddle, and can be easily moved from one grill to another. You can even throw wood chips, pellets, or sawdust between the rails and deliver a quick burst of smoke.
The Good-One Is A Superb Grill And A Superb Smoker All In One
The Good-One Open Range is dramatically different from a traditional offset smoker. By placing the heat source behind and under the smokebox instead of off to the side, Open Range produces even temperature from left to right, something almost impossible to achieve with a standard barrel shaped offset.
Green Mountain’s portable Davy Crockett Pellet Smoker is one mean tailgating and picnic machine. But it’s also gaining popularity with people who want to add a small, set it and forget it pellet smoker to their backyard arsenal. And with their WiFi capabilities you can control and monitor Davy Crocket from your smart phone or laptop.
The amazing Karubecue is the most innovative smoker in the world. The quality of meat from this machine is astonishing. At its crux is a patented firebox that burns logs above the cooking chamber and sucks heat and extremely clean blue smoke into the thermostat controlled oven. It is our favorite smoker, period. Click here for our review of this superb smoker
Griddle And Deep Fryer In One
The flat top does the burgers and the fryer does the fries. Use the griddle for bacon, eggs, and home fries. Or pancakes, fajitas, grilled cheese, you name it. Why stink up the house deep frying and spatter all over? Do your fried chicken and calamari outside. Blackstone’s Rangetop Combo With Deep Fryer does it all!