New Orleans style red beans and rice is one of the first meals that Mom taught me how to make as a kid. It’s on my Death Row “Last Meal” list – it’s a long list. Suffice it to say, you’ll never see me pass up a good bowl of red beans and rice. They’re a staple through much of the South, particularly in South Louisiana, with hearty flavor and a creamy texture.
This is a fantastic, easy, one pot meal that can be altered as desired to suit your tastes. The real key to this recipe is using Camellia brand red beans. I’ve tried many others – none cook down with quite the same creamy texture as Camellia. If you can’t find them at your local grocer, they are readily available online.
I use a lot of meat in this version. You can scale back both the meat and the spice as desired to suit your tastes. Mom used to make her New Orleans style red beans and rice on the mild side with either sausage or ham. I like a spicy kick to mine with plenty of meat – the ham gives the beans a bit of smokiness and the sausage has a nice firmness to offset the creaminess of the beans. For those who like a little extra heat, use a vinegary hot sauce such as Tabasco. My brother used to pour Italian dressing on his. Weird, I know, but it does work for some people. Enjoy, and Cheers, my friends!
- 1 lb. Camellia Red Kidney Beans
- 8 cups water
- 8 oz Ham shank or leftover ham bone
- 1 lb. Andouille sausage (spicy or smoked kielbasa is a good substitute)
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 medium onions chopped
- ½ red bell pepper chopped(or green, we like red because they're a bit sweeter and less bitter)
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper to taste or Cajun seasoning
- 8 cups cooked long grain rice
- Soak the red beans in water overnight.
- In a large stockpot, brown the sausage, remove and set aside.
- Add the butter, onions, bell pepper and celery. On medium heat, stir until onions turn translucent.
- Add the pre-soaked red beans, bay leaf and ham shank or bone and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and allow to barely simmer for approximately 3-4 hours. Check occasionally and add water if needed to desired consistency (some like their beans thicker and some like them thinner).
- About an hour before finishing, add the browned sausage back into the red beans.
- Finished beans should be creamy and soft enough to smash with light pressure. When finished, season to taste with spices (the ham and sausage will alter the seasoning level as they cook down, so wait until the beans are finished to stir in the appropriate amount of additional seasoning).
- Note: If a thinner consistency is desired, add water. For a thicker consistency, allow to simmer with the lid off until desired thickness is achieved.
- Remove the bay leaf and serve over rice.