Tuesday, February 10, 2009

February is Mardi Gras Month and a great time to serve Red Beans & Rice

Louisiana Red Beans & Rice make a perfect dish to serve as a celebration of Mardi Gras. This year Mardi Gras Day is February 24, also called Fat Tuesday. It is the last day of the Mardi Gras Carnival season, is always forty six days before Easter and therefore falls on a different day each year. More information on Mardi Gras, its customs, the parades and Louisiana cuisine can be found on the Mardi Gras Day website.

Red Beans & Rice is believed to have originated with African-American cooks on plantations in Louisiana. Today it is a New Orleans favorite that you will find from fine restaurants to home kitchens and everyone has a different recipe. Here’s our favorite version.

New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

2 quarts water
1 lb. red kidney beans (soaked overnight in water to cover)
3 slices thick bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. kielbasa sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 lb. thick ham, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 yellow onion and 1 red onion (about one pound), diced
½ of a red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley plus more for garnish
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Louisiana hot sauce, such as Tabasco
Cooked brown rice tossed with fresh flat leaf parsley

Drain soaked beans and put back in soup pot with fresh water to cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Turn down and simmer, slowly, covered.

In a saute pan over medium heat, cook bacon until done, crumble and set aside. Discard most of the pan drippings and add the olive oil. Add the sausage and ham and cook over medium high flame until browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage and ham to a plate.

Add the onion and red bell pepper to the drippings in the pan, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add thyme and tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes until the mixture comes together and the paste starts to turn a light brown, being careful not to burn. Transfer the onion mixture to the bean mixture, stirring to scrape up the browned bits from the pan. Add the bay leaf and parsley. Cook until beans are soft and almost ready to eat, approximately one hour. You may need to add more water if the beans get dry. Season with salt, pepper, and add bacon, sausage and ham to the pot and stir to combine. Add hot sauce to taste.

Remove the bay leaf and discard. If it is not thick enough, use the back of a spoon to mash some of the beans against the side of the pot and stir to thicken the broth. Serve in individual bowls over parslied brown rice. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and a hot sauce to taste. Serves 8 to 10.

Note: This is a rich dish, but so is much of southern Louisiana cuisine. We use this for special occasion. You could leave out the bacon and ham to lighten it up. We have also made it vegetarian with good results.

Laisser les bons temps rouler - let the good times roll as they say in Louisiana.


  1. This looks great - how can you go wrong with bacon AND sausage!?

  2. That sounds excellent! Wonderful flavors with the sausage and the hot sauce and all the other wonderful ingredients here.

  3. Thx for the info on Madi Gras. I like this dish a lot....it is easy, comforting and sooo tasty!!!

  4. I have never made red beans and rice. Thanks for posting the recipe. I'll be celebrating Mardi Gras - not a bad reason to have a party.

    With our cold weather lately, this will be a welcome meal.

  5. I love red beans and rice but have never made it. This looks like a killer with the bacon and the sausage! And you must finish the meal with Crêpes (my French husband says here they make crêpes on Mardi Gras). Now that would be a meal! Yum!

  6. I've never had red beans and rice - I think it's time I try.

  7. I could survive on beans & rice. This dish sounds delicious. I have to go to New Orleans some day.

  8. My goodness, bacon , sausage, red beans, rice. YUM!! It is all there, love it! Hope to get there some day!

  9. Looks yummy... I like red beans.

  10. Sam, This sounds wonderful. We have a group coming to visit soon so I may give this a try. Thanks.

  11. I'm not a big rice fan, but this looks delicious. Sam, I would love to exchange links with you. I'll add you to my blog list if you'll add me to yours. What do you say?

  12. Sam,
    This looks great. Thanks for posting such great recipes on your blog. The food makes my mouth water.

  13. Thank each of you for stopping by my kitchen and leaving your kind comments. This is a rich dish, but it's for celebrating Fat Tuesday. We've also made it vegetarian with good success.

    Jamie - your French husband is correct. Crepes would be a great finish to a New Orleans Marti Gras meal.

    Judy - I would be happy to exchange links. If you love seafood and I sure do, be sure check Judy's Kitchen blog.


  14. Thanks for stopping and giving me the info on the scallops. I'm willing to give them another try. Of course getting good seafood in Knoxville can be trying.

    Your red beans and rice look very good. They are a Monday tradition in our house even today which is known as Lundi Gras - Fat Monday!

    Happy Mardi Gras! I'll be back to visit you too!

  15. This sounds wonderful!

    I'm so jealous you got to meet Fran Warde! I also have the second cookbook in the series too. It has such simple yet elegant dishes in it. I'm afraid the binding is beginning to crack a bit in my copy of My French Kitchen. I've opened it too many times!

  16. Had to comment on the lapin comment. My three year old came with me to the butcher this past weekend, and he REALLY wanted to buy rabbit. We did but I put it in the freezer because I wasn't sure how to make it. I'll look up the mustard recipe. Perhaps in My French Kitchen? Thanks, as always, for your comments Sam!

  17. I had rice and beans today but they were not as great as these. Yum!

  18. ooo Sounds really tasty with bacon and sausages!

  19. This looks good, my mom was from Louisiana, and we did not eat dishes like this often, but being poor she did not put more than one meat in a dish, and then I got older and would eat out at Cajun restaurants and was overwhelmed with jambalaya's and foods that had many meats, but this does not sound bad at all...and I love bacon *oink*, I am making your Cassoulet on Monday, I found black eyed peas (dry) I forgot about from New Year's...let you know how it turns out!


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