This recipe is about as N’awlins as you can get—besides crawfish, gumbo and jambalaya. Red beans and rice are eaten all over Louisiana, but are supposedly Cajun in origin; it is served traditionally throughout the city on Monday, which is laundry day—the beans cook on the stove while the laundry is done. There are many variations of this dish; the beans can be cooked with pork, sausage, or bacon. The rice is always white, long grain and it is most often served plain with the beans on top.
1 pound light or dark red kidney beans
3 whole bay leaves, fresh or dried
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 large stalk celery, diced (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
Half green bell pepper, diced (1/2 to 3/4 cup)
2 green onions, sliced
About 1/2 pound spicy sausage, sliced
4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 or 2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, minced, optional
About 1 tablespoon fresh thyme and/or oregano leaves, chopped, or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme and/or oregano leaves, crumbled
1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, or 1 to 2 teaspoons Cajun or Creole seasoning
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Few dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups white rice, cooked according to package instructions
Soak 1 pound of kidney beans covered with water overnight. Pour off the soaking water and add enough water to cover by about 1-inch. Add bay leaves, bring the beans and water to a boil, reduce heat and simmer beans, stirring occasionally for about 40 to 60 minutes. Dried beans take 8 to 9 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker.
When the beans are al dente, put the rice onto cook. In a skillet heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté for about 2 minutes, add celery and bell pepper and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add green onion, sausage, garlic, and jalapeno, stir and cook for a few minutes. Sprinkle with thyme and/or oregano, cayenne, Creole or Cajun seasoning (start with the lesser amount and taste for seasoning when everything is combined) and ground pepper, stir well, cover and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the sauté to the beans with 1 teaspoon salt and a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Stir well, cover, and cook over low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste the beans for seasoning, add more salt, pepper, or water if necessary. For hot, spicy beans, add more cayenne, pepper flakes, Creole or Cajun seasoning. When the rice is done, transfer it to a large serving dish or individual bowls and spoon the beans over top.
© Susan Belsinger