Homemade Is Better—Red Beans and Rice

I have been hesitant to make this dish; I have tried so many previous times to make it work and make it taste like my sister-in-law’s.  Her recipe comes from her mother-in-law, who lived in New Orleans for a few years.  This isn’t that recipe, but I finally felt like I had gotten my recipe and method to a state where it wasn’t too runny or thick.

While reading about red beans and rice, I noticed that many authors refer to this as a Monday night dish.  The story goes back to when we had to do laundry by hand.  The women would spend the entire day doing laundry (probably not much different from today, at least in our house); thus, red beans and rice were a perfect meal because they could put all the ingredients into a pot and let them cook on low heat for many hours.  In addition, Sunday night’s dinner was often ham and using the ham bone in the dish was a great way of stretching ingredients.  When money was tight, which I would guess was often, stretching ingredients into other meals was one way of getting more bang for your buck.  We usually have leftovers during the week, or with meals like this one, we freeze any remaining portions and thaw them later.

I wrote about leftovers briefly in a previous article about turkey leftovers.  I didn’t mention it much in my meal planning article, but eating your leftovers is a great way of putting your grocery bill on a diet.  Some leftovers cannot be changed, like lasagna, but a ham dinner with a bone in it can be used for red beans and rice.  The ham can make sandwiches or toppings for pizza or salads.  Other proteins like roast beef, chicken, or pork roast can also be used differently.  Roast beef makes a great hot beef sandwich, as long as you have gravy!

Red Beans and Rice


1 tbsp canola oil Or bacon fat
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic sliced
1 pound of dry red kidney beans
2L cold water
1-2 ham hocks
1 pound Andouille sausage
2 Bay Leaves
1 tbsp of Creole seasoning (you can make your own or buy some at the store)
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 sage powder
1-2 cups of cooked rice

  1. Grab a heavy-bottomed pot and turn your burner to high.
  2. Add the oil or bacon grease and let it warm up for one minute.
  3. Add the onions, green pepper, and garlic and sweat them stirring often for about 5 minutes. Turn your heat down to medium or low if it is starting to burn or brown.  You do not want to brown the vegetables.
  4. Add the celery and sweat for another two minutes.
  5. Add the spices, sausage, beans, and hocks.
  6. Stir for one minute, then turn the heat up to high if you turned it down.
  7. Add the water and bring the mixture to a boil.
  8. Once boiling, turn the heat to a simmer and cook for five hours. Stir it every 30 minutes to prevent stuff from sticking.
  9. In the last 30 minutes of cooking, make your rice.
  10. Serve with a bit of hot sauce if you want to spice things up.