In case you weren’t aware, Mardi Gras is happening right now. It’s a few weeks of revelry every year in the Gulf Coast region that culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, every year. I was in New Orleans for a quick family trip last week, and it thrilled me to the tips of my party planning toes to see the entire city decorated in purple, green and gold as if it were Christmas. Every door had a Mardi Gras wreath, and every business we visited was decked out for the season.
Of course, visiting family in Nola is never complete without lots (and lots!) of good food. We had quite a few of the family favorites, but missed out on my dad’s Red Beans and Rice. This recipe was the Southern Louisiana answer to the crockpot; this dish was traditionally made on laundry day when the cook in the house didn’t want to mess with preparing a meal after a long day of washing clothes. It was started in the morning, and by dinner time, there was something amazing to eat! This red beans and rice recipe is exceedingly easy to make and is a perfect touch of New Orleans for your Mardi Gras celebration.
This is a family recipe written by my father, but taught to him by my grandmother who never wrote it down (she never measured). It’s such a fantastic flavorful dish that always makes me think of home. Daddy uses dried red beans that have been soaked overnight – they can also be used in place of canned beans in this recipe. I use canned for speed of preparation.
- 4 cans red kidney beans
- 1-1½ lbs smoked sausage, cut into cubes
- 1 Ham hock or ½ lb baked ham (Not smoked ham) cubed or hambone with
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large diced onion
- 3 toes chopped garlic
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ Tablespoon Tabasco or hot sauce
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon thyme
- Chopped scallions or green onions
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 Tablespoon chopped parsley
- 4-6 cups cooked rice
1. Combine all ingredients (except rice) in a large pot.
2. Cover with water to 1 inch above level of ingredients. Cook covered on medium/low heat for 1 ½ - 2 hours. Do not boil beans; just keep at a low bubble. Stir every half hour, scraping sides to keep from sticking. Keep adding water to keep ingredients covered.
3. Take 2 cups of cooked beans out of pot, mash, then return to pot (for a thicker ‘gravy’). Add additional salt and pepper if needed.
4. Serve over scoop of hot cooked rice. Garnish with scallions.
This is even a kid-friendly family meal! Leave out any spicy seasonings and it will be perfect for little ones. Or if your kids go for that kind of thing, leave in the hot!