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Red Beans and Rice

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Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

Photo © Molly Watson

Red beans and rice are a classic creole dish from Louisiana traditionally served on Mondays. Whatever day you choose to make it, though, the hearty flavors of this humble meal are the result of long, slow simmering.

Many people like to dice the vegetables quite small so they sort of "melt" into the beans. Leaving some larger pieces for color and texture is also, however, a fine option.

The beans are usually flavored with a smoked pork of some sort, but feel free to make this a vegetarian dish - it's just as delicious. You may also want to check out How to Cook Beans.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups red beans
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, lard, or oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, diced (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 - 2 smoked ham hocks, each about 2 or 3 inches long or 1 cup chopped tasso or thick-cut bacon (optional)
  • 2 cups long-grain rice
  • Salt

Preparation:

  1. Rinse beans and put them in a large bowl. Cover with several inches of cool water and let sit overnight or use the quick-soak method.
  2. In a large pot over medium high heat, melt and heat the butter, lard, or oil. Add the diced onion, celery, pepper, and carrot, if using, and cook, stirring a bit, until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring again, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Drain beans and add them to the pot with the ham hock or other meat, if using. Add enough water to cover everything and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring now and again, until it smells of cooked beans and the beans are starting to be tender but are still a bit raw in the center. Add salt to taste (you will likely need quite a bit - there is a lot of water in that pot!). Continue simmering until beans are tender. The timing on this varies tremendously - older dried beans may take well over an hour and a half whereas fresher dried beans may be done in 45 minutes.
  4. Cook rice with 3 1/2 cups water and 1 tsp. salt in a rice cooker, if you have one. Or, bring 3 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 tsp. salt and the rice, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Remove cover and fluff rice with a fork.
  5. When beans and rice are done, shred any meat off the ham hock, if you used one. Add the meat to the beans and discard the bones. Serve rice topped with beans. Make sure to have hot sauce on the table for those who like it.

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