Red Beans and Rice

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Red beans and rice, the traditional Monday night supper in New Orleans, originated as an early version of crock-pot cuisine which was actually started the night before it was served. Women sorted, washed and soaked dried red beans Sunday night. Early Monday morning, the beans were put on the fire where they simmered slowly for several hours while the women did the family wash. Laundry was done outdoors by hand, and since there was no such thing as take-out at the time, it is easy to see why a dish of this type was attractive.

Fast and Easy Red Beans

Today’s busy homemaker can put mouth-watering red beans and rice on the table any night of the week. The key is to avoid the beans’ soaking and lengthy cooking time by using the canned variety. New Orleans cooks, as a general rule, do not approve of many short cuts in cooking, but this one meets with their heartiest approval because it results in a product that is virtually indistinguishable from the dish that is prepared the old-fashioned way. Here is what you need:

  • ½ to 1 lb Hillshire Farms or other hot sausage, sliced
  • 2 cans of dark red kidney beans – Van Camp’s New Orleans Style are good ones
  • Garlic powder to taste – 1/8 to 1/4 tsp.
  • Onion powder to taste – or sauté an onion if you have the time
  • 2 or three nice bay leaves
  • Cayenne pepper to taste

Fry sausage in a large skillet, preferably cast iron, until it is deep brown around the edges; this adds tremendous flavor. Drain sausage; add beans and other ingredients to the skillet and stir to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to simmer; cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from sticking. Serve over rice. Makes about four good servings.

Quick and Easy Rice

Grocery shelves are loaded with instant rice products, but nothing tastes as good as regular rice, and nothing is easier to cook. Here’s how: Bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil; add 1 tsp. oil or butter. Add 1 cup long-grain white rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving. That’s all there is to it; nothing could be simpler.

Red Beans and Rice Dinner Ideas

Salad or cole slaw and garlic bread are frequent accompaniments to a meal of red beans and rice, but on cold winter nights, turnip greens and corn bread are terrific alternatives. This simple red beans and rice recipe makes a healthy, inexpensive meal in about thirty minutes. Burgers from the drive-through would cost more and would not be nearly as tasty, filling or nutritious.

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