Mardi Gras Special: Red Beans and Rice – Comfortably Yum

Any time someone asks the question, “What exactly is soul food,” the answer should always be a comforting bowl of red beans and rice. Just sit them down, give them a spoon, and when they finish, ask them if they understand. They will.

Like I say in the intro, there are thousands of ways you can make this, using all sorts of smoked pig parts and sausages, but there are really only two ways you can serve it – thin and soupy, or thick and creamy.

Once you slowly simmered your beans, and they’re very, very soft and tender, and your meats are falling apart, you’re ready to serve. If you ladle it up as is, you’ll have something that’s fairly loose, with most of the beans still whole. It’s great like this, and based on my travels to New Orleans, the more common style.

However, another popular technique is to smash and stir some of the cooked beans into the mixture as you continue cooking. This creates a much thicker, and creamier consistency, which I really enjoy when I want something a bit more substantial. It’s closer to a chili texture, and I love how the rice sticks to it.

This is totally up to personal taste, so if you’ve never made it before, try some on rice as soon as the beans are tender, and it’s still pretty juicy. Check it out, and then, if you want, you can continue cooking/smashing/stirring to end up closer to where I did.

Regardless of how thick you make yours, you’ll want to soak your beans overnight in cold water before starting the recipe. If you forget, which you will, you can always use the quick method. Bring the beans to a boil in large pot of water, turn off the heat, and let it sit there for an hour or so to soften up, and become easier to digest.

If you put enough meat in it, this is more than a meal, but it also makes a great side dish for barbeque, or pretty much anything. Throw in some collard greens, and maybe some cornbread, and let the good times roll. I hope you give this easy, red beans and recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions:
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
12 ounces Andouille sausage, sliced or cubed
1 cup finely diced onion
3/4 cup finely diced celery
3/4 cup finely diced green peppers
4 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 smoked ham hock
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 quarts chicken broth or water, plus more as needed to adjust consistency
1 pound red kidney beans, soaked overnight
about 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
hot sauce to taste