Red beans and rice is a Southern Louisiana staple. It's commonly eaten on Mondays, a tradition that originated in the early days of New Orleans' history, because Monday was laundry day. The beans can simmer all day long, thus making it easy for housewives to do their washing all day, and still have dinner ready by nightfall. Also, the beans are flavored with pork fat, and since Sunday usually meant a big dinner that might involve a ham or some other cut of pork, the bones and leftover meat would be saved for red beans and rice the following day. What makes this din din even more attractive is that dried kidney beans and rice cost next to nothing, PLUS you're using your leftovers from Sunday. Pretty handy, eh?
Nowadays, housewives - or housegirlfriends, I suppose - don't exactly have Monday to hang around and wash their husband's undies and have to go to work. Enter my bff, the Crock Pot.
I can remember my mom making red beans when I was little. I even remember her totally 80s Crock Pot, with its lovely orange color scheme, sitting on the kitchen counter when I came home from school. God, that smelled so good. And that smell brings back so many great memories. It's so comforting to walk into the house after a long day of work/school and smell that...
Disclaimer: If you try to make this on the stove and use canned kidney beans, may God rest your soul. Please don't do that. It's sacrilegious to New Orleanian culture. Cook it low and slow... and you gotta soak the beans first! I usually soak my beans overnight at room temp - I just pour them in bowl, fill with water to the top (need extra water here in CO) and cover in plastic wrap until the morning. I also chopped my sausage and onion before I go to bed the night before so I can just toss it into the crock pot in the a.m. Also- the sausage: any smoked sausage will do. I like to use andouille when I can find it because it adds some spice.
Ham hocks are incredibly hard to find out of the South. I harass the guy at the meat counter all the time. Finally someone at Sunflower Market told me that they even ASK for ham hocks, and have a hard time getting them. If you can't find any, you can chop up a ham steak and just use that. But I promise you, ham hocks make it taste so much better. When I do see them at the store, I buy all of them. Sorry to anyone else in Denver who needs them.
Red Beans & Rice
1 bag of small red kidney beans, soaked overnight
1 package of smoked sausage, sliced into coins
1 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
1 ham hock (or ham steak, chopped)
cayenne pepper to taste
4 servings of cooked rice
Tobasco, for serving
1. Soak red beans overnight.
2. Add chopped onions and sausage to crock pot. Pour beans on top.
3. Fill crock pot to the brim with water and add bay leaves.
4. Add cayenne pepper for some heat (or don't if you don't want it).
5. Cook 8-10 hours on low heat in crock pot.
6. At the end of the day, I take out the ham hock and slice it up and put it back into the beans before serving.
7. Serve over rice. Tobasco is optional.