The traditional and official Monday dish in New Orleans, red beans and rice, became a mainstay after Hurricane Ida. Even without electricity, I was able to slowly simmer a big pot of red beans on my gas stove. As we reached out to feed our less fortunate friends that had lost their homes and power, a big steaming bowl of hearty red beans and rice was soul satisfying and comforting.
To make perfect New Orleans style red beans, it is necessary to soak the beans overnight. A long slow cooking process results in rich and creamy beans. I make a vegetarian version with sautéed onions, celery, bell pepper, garlic and spices. You can choose to season the beans with ham or sausage. Some New Orleans cooks add a ham bone and chunks of seasoning ham to the simmering beans. My mom used to season her beans with a salty piece of ham called pickled meat. If you prefer a meaty version, you can also fry up some hot sausage and serve that on top or on the side of the beans.
This recipe calls for one pound of dried beans. If you have a lot of people to feed, soak 2 pounds or more of beans and increase the chopped seasonings and spices proportionally. If you have a crock pot or an instant pot, this recipe is adaptable for either. And it’s faster too!
I prefer the meatless version of red beans with brown rice and plenty of hot sauce. I am a Crystal hot sauce groupie although I do love the smoky flavor that Tabasco chipotle hot sauce adds to the beans.
Louis Armstrong, the New Orleans famous jazz musician, famously signed his letters, “red beans and ricely yours.” Happy Monday and “red beans and ricely yours” from Sur le Plat.