Red Beans & Rice – Not Just For Washday Anymore!
Southern Recipe Posted by Susan Benton.
Red Beans and Rice, a New Orleans Monday washday dish, is one I learned how to cook at the age of fifteen when living in New Orleans. It is one of my all time favorite comfort foods, especially on a cold day. Perfect for football parties, Mardi Gras, or any large gathering, a pot of Red Beans can be made ahead of time, is easily served , and gets better as it sits. At a friends house one day after high school, I watched their grand-père (grandfather) who was cooking red beans and he taught me how to mash the beans against the side of the pot creating a creamy effect, a technique I still use today. Soaking the beans overnight ensures that they will be tender and will cook in reduced time. They are called washday beans as a pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. This is originally a Creole dish which gained popularity in Cajun cuisine, and can be found on most menus throughout New Orleans and the Southeast today.
1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted- I prefer Camellia Brand
4 tablespoons bacon grease- I prefer Benton Bacon & Ham
1/4 cup chopped tasso, or chopped ham
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound smoked ham hocks
4 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water
4 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish
Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
In a large heavy bottom pot, heat the bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add the tasso and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the grease in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham hocks, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)
Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
Note: This dish is even better the following day, especially with cornbread or New Orleans Leidenheimer French Bread served on the side.
Enjoy this southern recipe in this collection of our southern cuisine – let’s gather the best southern food ideas for The Southern Coterie cookbook.