Taste of Louisiana

Sit right down, ma cherie, and let me share one of New Orleans’ greatest treasures — red beans and rice.

Red beans and rice began as a Monday morning tradition using the leftover ham from Sunday dinner. The process of letting the beans simmer allowed women to finish their weekly washing without worrying about cooking. True to its nature, it only gets better with time, so don’t be afraid to let the beans sit all night and afternoon on the stove or in a crock pot.

Keep in mind this recipe makes a lot, so be prepared to share with friends.

For red beans

8 c. water

8 c. chicken stock

1 lb. Camellia red kidney beans

Leftover ham bone or smoked ham hock

1/2 lb. good-quality smoked ham, diced small

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 celery ribs, diced

1 average-size green pepper, diced

6 cloves garlic

Bay leaf (one fresh or two dry)

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tbsp. Creole Spice Mix

2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp. Tabasco

1 tbsp. coarse salt

1 tbsp. black pepper


First off, know how you like your beans. My dad and I prefer to soak our beans overnight so they’re mushier, while my mom doesn’t.

In a large pot, boil the water, chicken stock, beans and ham bone. Once it’s boiling, add the ham, vegetables, garlic and bay leaf. After letting this boil, let it simmer until the mixture starts to thicken.

Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.

After about two hours, add the parsley, spice mix, Worcestershire and Tabasco.

From here on it’s a waiting game. Let the mixture simmer for about an hour and a half or until the mixture is thick.

For the rice

1 tbsp. peanut oil

2 cups long-grain white rice (Della white basmati or Mahatma)

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. coarse salt

2 1/2 cups water

In a small pan, heat the oil until it starts to look iridescent — as if it’s shimmering. It takes some practice to understand what shimmering means and in the words of my mother, “You don’t know until you know.” Then add salt, bay leaf and rice. Stir quickly to keep the rice from burning. Once it’s opaque, add the water and make as usual. Wait about 20 minutes and you’ll have the best pot of rice.

Traditionally it’s served with andouille sausage and french bread.