New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

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Guess what, folks? Fat Tuesday is just a week away (which means Spring is fast upon us), and what better way to close out the winter season of gluttonous eating than with a big bowl of red beans & rice (even if it is the healthy version)! In New Orleans, red beans & rice was traditionally served on Mondays, because that’s when the women of the house would do the weekly washing — a chore that would take all day. Before scrubbing the clothes, they would take the left over ham hock from Sunday night’s dinner, add it to a pot of beans, then set it atop the stove to simmer. Nowadays, we don’t typically wash our clothes by hand, or serve a large ham for dinner on Sunday night, but that doesn’t mean we can’t honor this Southern tradition, especially at the kickoff of Mardi Gras. And not to get too modern on you, but this recipe calls for a crockpot. Gasp! “Laissez les bons temps rouler!” as they say in New Orleans, or “Let the good times roll!” (To adapt this dish for vegetarians, see Vegetarian Modification at the end of the recipe.)

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

Serves 4

  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups dried red kidney beans
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried sage leaves
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ¾ tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp. turmeric
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (see Tips)
  • ¼ tsp. red-pepper flakes (see Tips)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 14 oz. package Andouille sausage, sliced into ½-inch coins
  • 1 ham hock (see Tips)
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 3 cups cooked long-grain rice
  • ¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced, for serving

In a crockpot, combine all ingredients up to the ham hock. Stir well, then nestle ham hock into the middle of mixture. Cover and cook on LOW heat for 8 hours or HIGH heat for 4-6 hours.

Find bay leaves and discard. Gently remove ham hock and set aside. Once cool, cut meat away from bone, dice, and mix into beans. Season with salt and pepper, then spoon over top a bowl of cooked long-grain rice. Top with sliced green onions.

Sidekicks:

  • I like my red beans & rice SPICY! so I always have a bottle of Louisiana Hot Sauce on the table, that way I can add as much heat as I want.
  • Because of the aforementioned spice, I need something cool to extinguish the fire, and beer does just the trick. Try something crisp and light like a Pale Ale or Lager.
  • If you prefer wine over beer, uncork a bottle of Beaujolais, Shiraz, or Gewürztraminer instead.

Tips:

  • I wait to add the cayenne pepper and red-pepper flakes until after I dish my toddler’s serving. If you don’t like too much heat, omit one or both. Also, in that case, the spicy Andouille sausage can be replaced with a mild smoked sausage.
  • Fresh ham hocks can be purchased at your local butcher, or prepackaged ones can be found in the meat section of most grocery stores with the spiral cut hams.

Vegetarian Modification:

  • Omit the sausage and ham hock
  • Add 1 vegetable bouillon cube to the crockpot
  • Substitute smoked paprika for regular paprika
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