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Authentic New Orleans Red Beans and Rice

Authentic New Orleans Red Beans and Rice Recipe

Transport your taste buds to the Big Easy with this classic New Orleans red beans and rice recipe. Hearty, flavorful, and oh-so-comforting, this dish is a true Southern staple that’s perfect for any day of the week.

In New Orleans, red beans and rice isn’t just a meal – it’s a Monday tradition. Legend has it that back in the day, Monday was laundry day, and busy homemakers needed a dish that could simmer unattended while they tackled the week’s washing. Enter red beans and rice – a dish that practically cooks itself and tastes even better the next day.

Don’t let the simplicity fool you – this dish packs a flavor punch that’ll have you coming back for seconds (and thirds). With smoky andouille sausage, aromatic veggies, and creamy red beans, it’s a stick-to-your-ribs meal that’ll make you feel like you’re dining in the French Quarter.

The Secret to Perfect Red Beans

While you could use canned beans in a pinch, dried red kidney beans are the way to go for ultimate creaminess and depth of flavor. Soak them overnight in salted water – this little trick helps the beans cook more evenly and tender up beautifully.

The Holy Trinity: The Heart of Cajun Cooking

Like many Cajun and Creole dishes, red beans and rice starts with the “Holy Trinity” of vegetables: onion, celery, and bell pepper. This flavor base, sautéed until soft and fragrant, forms the backbone of the dish. A touch of garlic adds another layer of aromatic goodness.

Spice it Up: Herbs and Seasonings

A blend of cayenne pepper, sage, black pepper, thyme, and bay leaves gives this dish its signature flavor profile. Feel free to adjust the heat level to your liking – New Orleans cuisine is all about personalization!

Meaty Goodness: The Pork Trio

Andouille sausage is non-negotiable here, lending its spicy, smoky flavor to the pot. Smoked ham hocks add depth and body, while pickled pork shoulder (if you can find it) brings a unique tangy twist. Don’t sweat it if you can’t source pickled pork – a splash of cider vinegar at the end will give you a similar brightness.

Low and Slow: The Art of Simmering

Once all your ingredients are in the pot, it’s time to let the magic happen. A long, gentle simmer transforms the individual components into a cohesive, creamy delight. Be patient – good things come to those who wait!

New Orleans–Style Red Beans and Rice

Ingredients

  • 1 pound (450g) red kidney beans
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable oil or lard
  • 1 pound (about 450g) cooked andouille sausage, cut into 1/2-inch disks
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 12 ounces; 340g)
  • 1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (about 8 ounces; 225g)
  • 4 ribs celery, finely chopped (about 8 ounces; 225g)
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon (3 to 15g) ground cayenne pepper (depending on how hot you like it)
  • 1 teaspoon (about 4g) ground sage
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 smoked ham hock (optional)
  • 8 ounces (225g) pickled pork shoulder or rind (optional; see note)
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Hot sauce, such as Crystal or Frank’s, to taste
  • Cider vinegar, to taste (optional; see note)
  • Cooked white rice, for serving

Directions

  1. Start by giving your beans a good soak. Place them in a large bowl, cover with 6 cups (1.5L) cold water, and add 2 tablespoons (30g) kosher salt. Stir until the salt dissolves, then let the beans rest at room temperature for 8 to 16 hours. When you’re ready to cook, drain and rinse the beans.
  2. Time to build flavors! Heat oil or lard in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add andouille sausage and cook until it’s lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Next, toss in the Holy Trinity – onion, bell pepper, and celery. Season with salt and cook until the veggies soften and just start to brown around the edges, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another 45 seconds until it releases its aroma. Now for the spices – cayenne pepper, sage, and a generous 10 to 12 grinds of fresh black pepper. Cook for 30 seconds more, letting the spices bloom.

    Add the beans to the pot along with enough water to cover by about 2 inches (roughly 6 to 8 cups). Toss in the ham hock (if using), pickled pork (if using), thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Bring everything to a boil, then reduce to a bare simmer. Cover and let it cook low and slow until the beans are completely tender, which usually takes 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. Keep in mind that older beans might take a bit longer.

  3. Once the beans are tender, it’s time to achieve that perfect creamy consistency. Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has thickened and turned creamy, about 20 minutes. If the pot starts to look dry before you reach creamy perfection, just add a cup of water and keep simmering. Repeat as necessary until you achieve creamy nirvana.

    Now for the finishing touches. Fish out the bay leaves and thyme stems. Season to taste with hot sauce, a few teaspoons of cider vinegar (if using), and more salt and pepper if needed. For the best texture, let it cool and refrigerate overnight – the flavors will meld and the beans will get even creamier. When you’re ready to serve, reheat gently, adding a little water to loosen if necessary. Serve your New Orleans-style red beans over steaming white rice and laissez les bon temps rouler!

Notes

Can’t find pickled pork? No worries! The beans are delicious without it. If you’re skipping the pickled pork, try adding a small splash of cider vinegar at the end to brighten up the flavors. Adjust to your taste – remember, cooking is all about making it your own!

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
570 Calories
19g Fat
77g Carbs
24g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 570
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 898mg 39%
Total Carbohydrate 77g 28%
Dietary Fiber 11g 38%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 24g
Vitamin C 29mg 144%
Calcium 96mg 7%
Iron 6mg 34%
Potassium 1297mg 28%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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