Red Beans & Rice

This dish reminds me of a time when I used to spend my summers laying in the grass with short shorts on, hanging with my friends and the boys from my neighborhood! It reminds me of a time before smartphones when late night phone calls always got interrupted by mom once she realized I was up past 10. This dish reminds me of grass, rain on concrete and riding through Regional Park on Sunday. Red Beans & Rice is a comfort, just like my childhood memories. My elevated recipe is the equivalent of a four-page love letter to my past. Seriously, this is all the feels and all the flavors in one pot and I’m happy to share it with each of you.

I do not believe in shortcuts when I cook. Shortcuts typically mean something gets omitted and I don’t play like that! I want food that is flavorful and I don’t mind spending time on the prep, if the outcome will be worth it. This recipe takes time. Don’t skip any steps then complain later. In fact, let this be a meal you make when you’ll be in the house not doing shit. Fry some chicken or bake salmon and you’ll have a banger for the family.

Soak your beans overnight. It softens them up. Don’t try to boil them for longer or microwave them, soak them… overnight. Also, if you’re not trying to use a ham hock, don’t even try this recipe. IDGAF what your cousin, aunt, granny or momma told you… the ham hock makes this dish. I don’t want to imagine this dish without it. Vegan Red Beans & Rice sounds like you’ll be farting for days and ham hock-less Red Beans & Rice sounds unappetizing. So, if you don’t like pork, this one ain’t for you!

The magic to this dish is in your technique. My great-grandmom affectionately dubbed this technique as “Almost, but Not Quite”. It’s when you cook something to the point of it being almost, but not quite burnt. I swear! When I was a kid, I’d call my granny crazy AF and go sit somewhere with my side-eye judging her for almost burning the beans, but not anymore. It’s a real thing. Don’t be afraid to cook your meat and veggies down in this recipe. That’s where the flavor resides.

Finally, I’m going to share my secret to fluffy ass rice in hopes that you’ll leave that rice in a bag on the shelf. First of all, you need to rinse your rice in warm tap water BEFORE you boil it. You’ll notice the water will be murky as fuck… good. That’s residual dirt and starch and it makes your rice sticky if it stays so rinse it off! Next, add salt and bring the water to a rolling boil. Once it starts rolling, add the rice and lightly stir it make sure it’s not sticking together. Put the lid on the pot, turn the heat on the low and move on with your life for the next 17-18 minutes. Don’t open that lid for any reason… don’t worry about checking it. Set it and forget it! Once the time is up, take the pot off the stove and leave it alone for another 5-7 minutes. After the time elapses, you can fluff it with a fork. It’ll be perfect, I promise!

THE RECIPE

Serves 6-8

  • 7 c. Water

  • 2 c. White Rice

  • 2 c. Chicken Stock

  • 1 lb. Red Kidney Beans, dried

  • 1 lb. Smoked Ham Hocks, scored

  • 1½ lb. Andouille Sausage, cut into rounds

  • ½ lb. Pancetta, diced

  • 6 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 celery stalks, sliced thinly

  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced

  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped

  • 1 shallot, chopped

  • ¾ tsp. dried sage

  • ½ tsp. white pepper

  • ½ tsp. black pepper

  • ½ tsp. smoked paprike

  • ¼ tsp. dried oregano

  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes

  • Handful of fresh parsley, chopped roughly

  • Fresh Thyme, chopped roughly

  • Cajun Seasoning or Salt to taste

  1. In a large pot, on medium heat, fry pancetta until golden brown then add vegetables. Cook until softened and caramelized, or about 10 minutes.

  2. Turn stove to medium-high heat then add sausage to the pancetta & veggie mix. Cook until both sides are browned, or about 7 minutes. Add in the fresh parsley, thyme and all seasonings. Stir and mix well. This is where you’ll almost, but not quite burn your food. Take special care to make sure the sausage is brown but not burnt. Trust yourself!

  3. Add ham hocks, chicken stock and water. Bring to a rolling boil before adding beans.

  4. Once beans are added, boil for 5-10 minutes then bring temperature down so that it simmers. Cover with a lid and for 3-4 hours until the beans have softened. Be sure to check and stir periodically so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot. If the liquid evaporates, add no more than a cup at a time.

  5. Once beans are soft, use a wooden spoon to smash about half in the pot. Smashing the beans allows for a creamy texture that enhances the flavor of the dish. Use a clean spoon to taste. Add cajun seasoning or salt, as needed then cook for 10-15 more minutes.

  6. Serve with rice and garnish with green onions or parsley and enjoy!