My first taste of red beans and rice wasn’t at my grandma’s, like so many of my other Southern friends. It was at a popular restaurant, served in a small bowl, with the rice already mixed in.
Fast forward years later. I decided to make up a batch and found that all Creole red beans and rice recipes have certain ingredients in common. For instance, they all start with some sort of fat. Bacon grease seems to be the most popular, but olive oil would a healthier option. Next comes the meat–pork to be exact. You can choose from smoked ham hocks, a meaty ham bone, and/or a spicy pork sausage like Andouille. A blend of chopped vegetables called ‘the trinity’ is then sauteed in fat. These vegetables can also be referred to as the aromatics, which consist of onions, celery, and bell pepper.
Of course, all red bean and rice recipes have red beans as the key ingredient, but to be authentic you need to buy the dried beans, preferably the Camelia brand from New Orleans. Cook those delicious beans in either water, chicken broth, or a combination of the two. Next, choose your spices. You can make it mild, like this recipe, or spicy. To keep the salt to a minimum, I’ve added it near the end of the cooking time, and I’ve added some sugar to balance things out.
The most popular way to serve Creole red beans and rice is to keep the rice and beans separate. This allows the guest to decide the ratio they would like and keeps the rice from absorbing the liquid from the beans. Traditionally, the ratio is twice as much beans to rice, but if the beans are extra spicy, a guest might reverse that ratio if they prefer things on the milder side.
It’s also nice to provide additional garnishes and condiments for your guests to use. The most common being chopped green onions, parsley, hot sauce, and vinegar. You might question the vinegar, but it is a nice touch. Serve this popular comfort food with a crusty French baguette to sop up any liquid. An Irish pub salad, which has pickled vegetables in it, would also be a nice accompaniment to these Creole red beans and rice.
Lovin’ this Southern recipe? Check out these other delicious ones and pin your favorites.
Southern Collard Greens: an addictive and surprisingly nutritious side dish packed with smoked ham hocks.
Savory Corn Casserole: this colorful take on a super-easy side similar to cornbread.
Southern Sweet Tea: relax on the porch with a glass of this popular Southern drink.
Creole red beans and rice is an easy recipe to make when you are craving some authentic soul food from New Orleans. Let these creamy red beans simmer for hours on your stove top. What’s stopping you from serving your family a healthy side dish of red beans and rice for dinner tonight?
For the Red Beans
- 2 pounds dried red beans, soaked, drained, and rinsed (preferably Camelia brand)
- 2 tablespoons bacon grease
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cups yellow onion, diced (roughly 2 large onions)
- 1 cup celery, diced (roughly 5 celery stalks)
- 1 cup green bell pepper, chopped (roughly 1 medium pepper)
- 1 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped (roughly 1 large pepper)
- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 4 teaspoons paprika
- 2 smoked ham hocks
- 4 cups reduced sodium chicken stock
- 4 cups filtered water
- 1 large carrot, peeled (optional)
- 6 bay leaves
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
For the Rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 small onion, diced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups long-grain white rice
- 3 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
For the Garnish
- bunch of spring onions, green part only, sliced diagonally
- handful of flat leaf parsley, rinsed with stems removed
- white vinegar, for each guest
- hot sauce, for each guest
- a fresh grind of black pepper
Preparing the Dried Red Beans
- Soak the beans using this quick-soak method. In a large Dutch oven, cover the beans with double the water. Put a lid on it, and bring the beans to a rolling boil and let cook for 10 minutes. Shut the heat off, but keep the pot on the element with the lid on tight. Let the beans soak for a minimum of one hour to a maximum of overnight, then drain and rinse the beans and set aside.
- Cut the onions, celery, and bell peppers.
- In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, put in 4 tablespoons of fat (bacon grease, olive oil, or some combination of the two).
- Once the fat has heated up, add the chopped vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the first set of spices and cook for 1 minute.
- Stir in the soaked red beans, ham hocks, chicken stock, water, carrot, and bay leaves, then cover. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium low and simmer for 3 hours with the lid askew. Stir occasionally so the beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
- After two hours, remove the 2 ham hocks and place them on a large plate. Wait for them to cool before cutting the meat off the bones and adding it back into the pot. Remove 3 cups of beans and mash with a potato masher, then return the mashed beans back to the pot. This gives the bean mixture a more creamy texture. Mix in the salt and sugar and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Simmer for one more hour on low heat, stirring occasionally. Add more water if necessary to get the desired consistency. Serve hot.
Making the Rice
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, then saute the diced onion. Add a bay leaf and the salt; then cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Stir in the 2 cups of rice and pour in the chicken broth. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove the lid and fluff the rice with a fork. Serve warm.
Serving the Red Beans and Rice
- Keep the red beans and rice separate so each guest can serve themselves.
- In a bowl, place the desired amount of rice (roughly 1/2 cup), then ladle the red beans on top (roughly 1 cup). The basic ratio is double the red beans to rice.
- Sprinkle with green onions and parsley, and have the hot sauce and vinegar available for guests to add to their bowls. Add the vinegar 1 teaspoon at a time to your bowl. Enjoy!
- If you would like to add more meat, cut up 2 pounds of Andouille sausage or hot smoked pork sausage. Cook this first, then continue with the rest of the recipe.
- The carrot is optional, but it is meant to remove some of the gas from the beans.
- You can substitute a meaty ham bone for the 2 smoked ham hocks.
- You could also add quartered pickled baby onions as one of your garnishes.