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Fat Tuesday Red Beans and Rice

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Red Beans and Rice

Have a Mardi Gras party at home with Red Beans and Rice.

I cannot remember a Fat Tuesday when we didn’t have Red Beans and Rice and listen to a Mardi Gras playlist. And even though there are no parades this year – or maybe especially because there are no parades this year – we will be celebrating Mardi Gras at home.

Here’s what we do: Scan Spotify for a Mardi Gras playlist (must include “They All Ask’d for You” by The Meters), scatter some beads across the table, and put some red beans on the stove. This will all remind me of the time I was trying to hire The Meters to play at a college Mardi Gras party, and George Porter, who is a legend and awesome, was kind of giving us the run-around. It was Christmas, so my dad had me send Mr. Porter and his wife a poinsettia, just to say Merry Christmas, and to let them know I hoped they could work with us. Mrs. Porter loved the poinsettia, and she loved it so much she made her husband sign the contract and commit to our party, and then, when the party happened, she danced all night with my parents. This is what I will be telling my children about while we have our Mardi Gras party at home. They will be rolling their eyes and telling me they already know the story.

Still, everyone will be happy for the Red Beans and Rice, which also happen to be the perfect supper for a cold snap.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dry red kidney beans, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound andouille smoked sausage (or another smoked sausage), sliced into ½-inch rounds
2 cups diced yellow onion (from 2 medium onions)
1 cup diced green bell pepper (from 1 bell pepper)
1 cup diced celery (from 3 stalks celery)
3 bay leaves
1 ½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced 
4 cups cooked white or brown rice
4 green onions, chopped

In a medium saucepan, cover the beans with water by 2 inches. Soak 10 minutes. Bring to a boil over high; boil 20 minutes. Drain and set them aside.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-low. Add the sausage, and cook until it is barely browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the sausage and set aside. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery to the same Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the bay leaves, thyme, oregano, cayenne, salt, pepper, and garlic; stir. Add the reserved sausage and beans, and enough water to cover everything by 2 inches. Increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours. Add water as needed, keeping beans covered by an inch of water at all times. When the beans are soft, use a wooden spoon to mash ¼ of them. Stir, and cook over medium-low heat for about 1 ½ hours, until the beans are creamy. Add water as needed.

Taste for salt and pepper. Serve the beans spooned into bowls over the rice. Sprinkle the green onion over, and serve with Tabasco.

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