In 1983, I met a colleague who loved "cajun" food and was so excited when he found out that I was from New Orleans that he had to share his. I still have the yellowed piece of paper with the recipe written out in his handwriting with brown ink. I made some variations according to my taste, and you can certainly vary it to yours. He used something called "salt meat," which I was never able to find. I usually use the bone from a baked ham, but andouille sausage makes a good substitute. (Or you can leave the meat out and make it vegetarian.)
This can take all day to cook. Red beans and rice is traditionally served on Monday--wash day--when it could be put together in the morning and left to simmer while the rest of the house chores were being done.
Use small red beans or large kidneys. I like the small ones. If you don't like things too hot, a teaspoon or so of red wine or sherry vinegar at the end is a nice substitute for the Tabasco. As my friend wrote at the end of the recipe, "This be good yeah--I guarantee." —drbabs
Test Kitchen Notes
This is a great spin on red beans and rice! I have been to New Orleans many times over the years and, no matter where we go, I always get a bowl of red beans and rice. Usually I make my version with our homemade tasso or some locally-made andouille. This version is so rich with the broth and wine alone that you don’t need the additional meat. The recipe also works well in the pressure cooker. I did a quick soak on the beans then proceeded with the recipe, cooking on high pressure for 30 minutes. After natural release, I uncovered and simmered until thickened, about another 30 minutes. I’m sure this would be equally wonderful with red wine (I’ll try that next time). Both my husband and I really enjoyed this and plan to make it over and over again! - Helen's All Night Dinner —Helen's All Night Diner
red beans, washed well. You can soak them overnight and drain them well. If you do, this will cook in an hour or two instead of overnight.
bone from baked ham. If you don't have a ham bone, slice up some andouille sausage. Or you can leave the meat out and make it vegetarian.
white wine (it can be inexpensive table wine, but don't use "cooking wine.")
onions, chopped fine
cloves garlic, chopped fine
thyme leaves (or 3 to 5 sprigs)
fresh ground pepper
Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
cooked white or brown rice
scallions, chopped fine
In This Recipe
If you're using andouille, heat a dutch oven on medium high heat, and add the andouille slices (you can make them smaller if you prefer), stirring till they're starting to brown and some of the fat has rendered. Remove the andouille with a slotted spoon and set aside. Put the rest of the ingredients except for hot sauce, rice and scallions in a large dutch oven. Make sure the water level is 1 1/2 to 2 inches above the level of ingredients. Cover and cook on low till the beans are soft and the liquid has begun to thicken. (This could take several hours. You can also make this in a slow cooker.)
Remove the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. If you used a ham bone, remove that too, but cut the meat off the bone and put it in the pot with the beans. With a wooden spoon, mash some of the beans against the side of pot to make the dish creamier. Stir in the andouille if using.
Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. You may want to add some cayenne and a few sprinkles of hot sauce. depending on how hot you like it.
Serve over rice with extra Tabasco or vinegar if desired. Garnish with finely chopped scallions.