What pasta is to Italian families, and what rice soup is to many Asian families, red beans and rice is to the Cajun culture. Usually made in a large pot, then recooked, and added to several times. No specific recipe, since each family has their own idea what is "best."

A general idea:

Green peppers, sausage, a Ham bone and dried beans are boiled at least 6 hours. (The beans being soaked the day before). Often bacon drippings or other grease is added to make it "tastier." It is then served in a large bowl over a large scoop of white rice. Add Tabasco Sauce to taste. Mmm Good.

In Louisiana, it is ubiquitous.

One of the few dishes I can fix for large groups of people without messing it up. (Which means it is easy.)

Here's a recipe courtesy of Chuck Taggart, it has a good deal of similarity to the one I use (except I'm vague on the actual measurements, I just add stuff until it's "enough" and I typically don't use both andouille and ham at the same time):


1 pound red kidney beans, dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
As much garlic as you like, minced (I like lots, 5 or 6 cloves)
3/4 lb. smoked ham, diced
1 to 1-1/2 andouille, sliced on the bias
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
As many dashes Crystal hot sauce or Tabasco as you like, to taste
Creole seasoning blend, to taste; OR,
red pepper and black pepper to taste
Salt to taste


Soak the beans overnight. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot. Bring the beans to a roiling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans for about 45 - 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain. While the beans are boiling, sauté the onions, celery and bell pepper until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, then add the ham smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn't burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot.

If you can, let the beans cool, stick them in the fridge, and reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They'll taste a lot better. When you reheat this, you'll need to add a little water to get them to the right consistency.

Serve generous portions over hot white long-grain rice.

This dish can easily be cooked (like gumbo), in a crock pot. I'll start the beans and onions and celery at night, and at some random point I'll add the pork. You can use pork shoulder, which is cheap and fatty; bacon and ham hocks are also good to use in red beans.

I also like to throw in a jalapeño or a few red chiles. Pour a small cup of strong coffee into your beans to give them a richer flavor.

I've had red beans served with smothered chicken or pork chops, if you've ever been to The Harbor in New Orleans you know just what I mean. Pig lips are optional.

The tradition of red beans on Monday comes from the fact that Monday is wash-day and red beans are easy to make and require little maintenance (really, just don't let them dry out). It also makes great free bar food.

It is a well-known and oft-documented fact that in New Orleans, red beans and rice is traditionally served on Mondays. Perhaps this is because Monday is the traditional wash day, and red beans and rice is an easy dish to leave on the stove cooking while the washing is being done. Or perhaps Monday is red beans and rice day because it's traditional to have a ham on Sunday and this is a good way to use the leftover ham and ham hocks. But according to Jamie Shannon, the reason is more practical: two starches served together do a fine job of soaking up the weekend's excesses.

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