Red beans and rice is a delicious and popular Louisiana dish, traditionally served on Mondays using the ham bone left over from the previous Sunday's ham dinner. Red kidney beans are most often used, but many purists feel the flavor is too strong and use the small South Louisiana red beans.
According to "The New Orleans Cookbook", baked ham should be used rather than country ham or smoked ham. They also recommend pickled pork or salt pork (if using salt pork, eliminate other salt in the recipe).
An excerpt from "The Picayune Creole Cookbook""In all the ancient homes of New Orleans, and in the colleges and convents, where large numbers of children are sent to be reared to be strong and useful men and women, several times a week there appear on the table either the nicely cooked dish of Red Beans, which are eaten with rice, or the equally wholesome White Beans a la Creme, or Red or White beans boiled with a piece of salt pork or ham."-The Picayune Creole Cookbook, 1900
Cajun Red Beans and Rice
1 pound red kidney beans, dry
1 large onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
5 ribs celery, chopped
As much garlic as you like, minced (I don't like a lots, I use about 2-3 cloves)
1 to 1-1/2 pounds mild or hot smoked sausage sliced on the bias
1/2 to 1 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 or 2 bay leaves
As many dashes Crystal hot sauce or Tabasco as you like, to taste
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
Creole seasoning mix, to taste; OR,
red pepper and black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Soak the beans overnight, if possible. The next day, drain and put fresh water in the pot. Bring the beans to a rolling boil. Make sure the beans are always covered by water, or they will discolor and get hard. Boil the beans for about 45 - 60 minutes, until the beans are tender but not falling apart. Drain.
While the beans are boiling, sauté the Trinity (onions, celery, bell pepper) until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally. After the beans are boiled and drained, add the sautéed vegetables to the beans, smoked sausage, seasonings, and just enough water to cover.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 2 hours at least, preferably 3, until the whole thing gets nice and creamy. Adjust seasonings as you go along. Stir occasionally, making sure that it doesn't burn and/or stick to the bottom of the pot. If you can ... let the beans cool, stick them in the fridge, and reheat and serve for dinner the next day. They'll taste a LOT better. When you do this, you'll need to add a little water to get them to the right consistency.
Serve generous spoonfuls over hot white long-grain rice, with good French bread