When I was growing up in southern Louisiana, we ate red beans and rice once or twice a month. For many in New Orleans, the tradition is to serve this easy dish every Monday to start the week out right. A pot of red beans simmering on the stove will certainly feed a crowd, which makes it a good, easy dish to serve for your book club members.
The key to cooking good red beans and rice is to allow enough time, about three to four hours, so the beans have time to soften. To make a creamier dish (my favorite), mash the beans against the side of the pot once they are soft enough. The nice thing is you can cook this on the weekend before your book club meets and heat it up again the night of your event. The extra time it sits only helps the flavors get more intense. You can also freeze your beans and reheat if you want to make this dish well in advance. Here’s the recipe I got from my mama that I make for my own family.
Red Beans and Rice
- 1 lb. kidney beans, picked clean of bad beans and washed
- 1 lb. smoked pork sausage, or spicy sausage such as andouille
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 medium green pepper, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to taste
Soak the washed beans overnight in a four-quart pot. In the same soaking water, bring beans to a boil. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper and bay leaf. Lower heat and simmer about one and a half hours.
Add sausage and oil. Simmer one and a half hours longer or until beans are tender.
Serve over cooked rice. For a complete meal, add cornbread muffins and a green salad with fruit on the side.