Adapted from the Prudhomme Family Cookbook
Red Beans and Rice, originally a Creole dish, is now looked at as a “traditional” Cajun dish, largely because of the seasonings used (according to the Prudhomme Family Cookbook). No matter what you call it, it is delicious Louisiana cooking.
Traditionally, Red Beans and Rice were served as a Monday meal in New Orleans, since Monday was washday. The beans could simmer away for hours, with little attending to, while one did the washing.
This dish makes a lot and freezes well. It’s also great for leftovers. Taking a tip from washday in New Orleans, I recommend making this dish on a weekend afternoon, while working around the house. It’s also excellent to make on a cold winter day to help warm you in the evening.
Prep Time: 8 hours soaking overnight, plus 20-25 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, largely unattended
Makes: 8 servings
1 lb. dried red kidney beans
Water, to cover the beans
¾ lb. salt pork cut into 1-inch pieces (or good quality smoked Andouille sausage, or bacon)
4 cups water, for the salt pork
About 5 quarts, chicken stock, or water, or combination (half stock, half water works well)
¾ lb. smoked ham, or tasso, cut in small dice
2 ½ cups onion, finely chopped (about 2 medium-large onions)
1 ½ cups green pepper, finely chopped (I like red pepper, but green pepper is traditional) (about 2-3 peppers)
1 cup celery, finely chopped (about 4-5 stalks)
1 teaspoon of garlic, minced (about 2-3 cloves)
1 cup green onions, finely chopped (1 bunch)
¼ cup parsley, chopped
6 cups cooked white rice (used as a bed for the red beans)
Cover the 1 lb. dried red kidney beans with water and soak at least 8 hours or over night. Drain before using.
If using, put the ¾ lb. chopped salt pork in a 2 quart saucepan with 4 cups water over high heat and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the salt pork from the heat, drain, and set aside. If you are using sausage or bacon instead of salt pork skip this step.
In a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven (at least 5 ½ quarts), add the soaked kidney beans and 7 cups of stock (or stock and water mixture) and set over high heat and bring to a boil. Stir and scrape the pan bottom occasionally so the beans will not stick. Continue boiling the beans until the liquid barely covers the top of the beans. This will take about 25 minutes. Keep stirring and scraping frequently so beans won’t burn on the bottom. As long as you have a heavy bottom pan, the beans should be fine. Turn down the heat if necessary.
After 25 minutes, or when the liquid just barely covers the beans, stir in 2 more cups of stock and return to a boil, again stirring frequently. Continue boiling until liquid has again reduced so it barely covers the beans. This will take about 15 minutes. Remember to stir the pot often to keep the beans from sticking and burning to the bottom.
Again, when the liquid has reduced and is just covering the beans, add 2 more cups of stock. Cook and stir another 15 minutes, or so.
This time add 3 cups of stock. Cook and stir occasionally until the beans are tender and don’t taste starchy, about 30 to 40 minutes. Reduce heat if needed if the liquid is reducing too quickly, to allow the beans enough time to cook. If the beans need a bit more time to become tender, add another 1-2 cups of stock, or water, at a time.
Stir in 2 more cups of stock and add the ¾ lb. chopped tasso (or smoked ham), 2 ½ cups chopped onions, 1 ½ cups chopped bell peppers, 1 cup chopped celery, and 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Return to dish to a boil and cook another10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the reserved salt pork (or sausage, or bacon). Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook to allow the flavors to combine, another 30 minutes, stirring and scraping frequently.
To finish the dish, stir in the 1 cup chopped green onions and ¼ cup chopped parsley. Add more stock or water if you want the bean liquid thinned; continue cooking for another 10 minutes, stirring frequently so the beans do not burn. Season to taste with salt.
To serve, mound ¾ cup rice mounded in the center of a large plate. Surround the rice with 1 ½ cups red beans.