When one thinks of New Orleans, the rich aroma and taste of a pot of steaming Red Beans and Rice is never too far behind. This dish has become synonymous with the city’s cuisine and culture and is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.
New Orleans Mondy Dinner Tradition
As previously mentioned, the tradition of preparing Red Beans and Rice on Mondays dates back to the early 19th century when Monday was designated as wash day. This meant that families needed a meal that could be left to cook on the stove for hours while they attended to their laundry duties. Red Beans and Rice were the perfect choices as they could be left to simmer for hours, allowing the flavors to meld together and resulting in a delicious and hearty meal by dinnertime.
The ingredients used to prepare Red Beans and Rice are simple and affordable, which made it a popular choice among families in New Orleans. The dish typically consists of red beans that are slowly simmered with ham hocks or sausage, seasoned with garlic, onions, and other spices and served over a bed of rice. This dish has since become a beloved staple in the city’s cuisine and is enjoyed by locals and visitors alike.
Red beans and rice typically consists of red kidney beans, cooked with onions, bell peppers, celery, and seasonings, served over rice. The dish is often accompanied by smoked sausage or ham, and it is usually garnished with green onions.
When one thinks of New Orleans, the thought of a delicious pot of Red Beans and Rice is never too far behind. This classic New Orleans dish is often eaten on Mondays. The tradition of eating red beans and rice on Mondays dates back to the early 19th century when Monday was traditionally wash day. Women would spend the day doing laundry and cooking a big pot of red beans and rice because it was a dish that could simmer on the stove all day without needing much attention.
Red beans and rice typically consists of red kidney beans, cooked with onions, bell peppers, celery, and seasonings, served over rice. The dish is often accompanied by smoked sausage or ham, usually garnished with green onions.
This traditional dish can be made in countless ways using various brands of red beans, meats, vegetables, herbs, seasonings, and spices. While the basic recipe for red beans and rice includes red kidney beans, onions, bell peppers, celery, and seasonings, some people may use andouille sausage, ham hocks, or smoked ham as their meat of choice. In contrast, others may prefer to use chicken, turkey, or even tofu as a vegetarian option. In addition, some may add tomatoes or tomato paste for a slightly sweeter taste, while others may add hot sauce or cayenne pepper for a spicier kick.
Other ingredients to season the dish include, some common options include bay leaves, thyme, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Some people also like to use liquid smoke or smoked paprika to add a smoky flavor to the dish.
Some cooks in New Orleans insist that Camellia Brand®’s brand red kidney beans make the best pot of red beans and rice. The brand offers clients top-quality legumes, peas, and lentils native to the city. It’s always been my Momo (grandmother) and Mama’s favorite. We have tried wide other varieties of beans over the years – white, red, green – yet none compare to the creaminess of Camellia Brand®’s.
The Story of Red Beans and Rice”
The history of Red Beans and Rice is one of survival, making something delicious out of minimal ingredients. You can feed a large family with a simple bag of red beans and throw-away parts from meat like pigtails and ham–a common occurrence during slavery and segregation.
As a Black New Orleanian, making Red Beans and Rice is more than just cooking a meal. It’s a connection to my ancestors and a tribute to their resilience and ingenuity. The dish itself is a testament to the creativity and resourcefulness of enslaved Africans who were forced to make do with whatever ingredients were available.
When I prepare this dish, I am reminded of the sacrifices that my ancestors made and the struggles that they endured. I think about the long hours they had to work in the fields, enduring brutal treatment and back-breaking labor. I think about how they preserved their dignity and culture, even in the face of unimaginable adversity. They crafted dishes like Red Beans and Rice, which were both nourishing and delicious, and that has become a beloved tradition that we look forward to every week.
Red Beans and Rice is a dish that brings people together. It’s a dish that we share with our families and friends, and it’s a dish that we use to celebrate our culture and heritage. It’s a dish that has been passed down from generation to generation, and it’s a dish that we will continue to cherish and honor for years to come.
What’s in my pot
I learned how to make Red Beans and Rice from my mother, who had learned it from my grandmother, and so on. I keep the tradition alive in my own home. Every Monday, I would gather the ingredients and spend hours carefully preparing the dish, just like my ancestors had done before me. Occasionally, I deviate from my family’s recipe, particularly when cooking for individuals who do not consume pork or when I am pressed for time. For example, instead of using pickled pigtails, I may opt for smoked turkey butts, which share some similarities in their fatty texture. For vegans, there are a few adjustments to the traditional recipe. Such as instead of using meat, i use liquid smoke smoked vegan sausage or bacon substitute sand spices to give the dish a smoky flavor.
For my meat lovers, I add a few extra ingredients to my pot: A P Patton hot sausage, some smoked sausage, a few pickled pigtails, and a chunk of smoked ham. Combined, it makes for a tasty dish that can satisfy many people’s appetites.
When in a hurry, a quick-boil method is a great option. The quick-boil method is a pressure cooker technique that can cook red beans faster than the traditional stovetop method. First, rinse your beans and remove any debris or stones. Add water or broth, vegetables, and seasoning to the pressure cooker, and cook on high heat until the pressure cooker reaches full pressure. Then, reduce the heat and cook for the recommended time (usually 20-25 minutes for red kidney beans).
If you have time, you can soak your beans overnight. It’s important to sort through the beans carefully, as you may find small hard particles or broken beans. Don’t throw out any broken beans; smashing them can create a creamier texture!
The beauty of red beans and rice is that it is a versatile and adaptable dish that can be customized to suit individual tastes and preferences. So whether you prefer it mild or spicy, meaty or vegetarian, there is a red beans and rice recipe out there for you!
- 6 cups Long grain white or brown rice, cooked
- 1 (1-pound) package of Camellia Brand® Red Kidney Beans or Red Kidney Beans
- 1 (32-ounce) container of no-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups of water, as needed
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- ½ cup chopped green onion
- 4-7 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 pound of Tasso, smoked ham, pickled pork, or a large ham hock
- 1 pound smoked sausage
- 3 slices of bacon, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ tablespoon of vegetable or canola oil
- Hot sauce to taste
- Creole or Cajun seasoning to taste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced green onion, for garnish, optional
Rinse and sort beans. (Optional: Soak beans using your preferred method. I like to soak my beans overnight or the quick-boil method for 10 minutes and sit them for three hours. Soaking beans in water helps them cook up more tender.
Place beans in a large, heavy pot and cover with chicken broth and water. If needed, add fresh water mixture in a ratio of 1 part beans to 2 parts water.
Bring the beans to a rolling boil, lower heat, and simmer for 1-2 hours or until tender. Stir often (so that beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot) and add water as needed.
Sauté meats in that same skillet, but separately with a bit of olive or vegetable oil, until nicely browned. Remove meat, save drippings, and set aside. (I still like to sauté all of the ingredients rather than just dump everything in the pot raw. Doing so heightens the flavor. Multiple cured pork products lend deep flavor to the beans.)
In drippings, skillet adds onions, green onion, and bell pepper and sauté until tender. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, and sauté for 2 minutes; sprinkle with seasoning salt, stirring occasionally.
Add meat and sautéed vegetables to the beans. Water should cover all.
Continue to simmer for 1-3 hours, until beans are tender and creamy (continue to stir and avoid burning on the bottom of the pot).
To make creamier beans, remove 2 or 3 cups of beans from the pot, puree them with a mixer or blender, and return to the pot. Add hot sauce, salt, pepper, and/or Creole seasoning to taste.
Serve over hot white rice, garnish with chopped green onions or parsley with buttered cornbread or French bread.