Red Beans & Rice

 

A long-standing frugal classic, Red Beans & Rice is claimed to have originated in Louisianna. History says that this dish was typical of Monday nights, because Monday was wash day. Laundry was once a very time and labor intensive task, with water to boil, hand-scrubbing each piece of clothing, wringing it out, and hanging it to dry on a line.

This meant little to no time to also cook a complicated meal. Since Sundays were traditionally a ham, the leftover ham bone would be simmered with the beans slowly all day. With the trifecta of veggies (celery, onion, and bell pepper) and some seasonings (garlic, sage, thyme, and/or bay leaf) it is then served over white rice for a simple, cheap, yet hearty meal.

Sometimes sausage is added into the beans, or at the end of cooking, and sometimes pork chops are cooked on the side. Though usually cooked using a ham bone, sausage, and/or bacon grease for flavoring, it is very easy to make vegetarian or vegan. I used some of my home-canned beans for this recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups cooked beans or 1 1/2 cup dry
  • 1/4 red onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 bell pepper
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 bay leaves
  • Green onion
  • Optional: black pepper and/or hot sauce
  • Optional: 1/2 cup sliced sausage or ham

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Step 1: Chop the onion, celery, garlic, and bell pepper very small. Put in a pan with the olive oil, and cook on medium heat 10-15 minutes.

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Step 2: If you want to use sausage or ham, now is the time you can add it to the pan and cook it until no longer pink. If you want it to be vegetarian, feel free to not include sausage.

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Step 3: Either using canned beans, or pre-soaked and cooked beans, add to the pot with the veggies. Add water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours.

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Step 4: Add the bay leaves and 1 tsp black pepper to the pot. Simmer another hour.

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Step 5: This is optional, but will make your beans much creamier. Take out 1/4 to half the beans, and put into a blender with some cooking liquid. (You can do this before you add them to the pot so you are sure to not include any sausage bits).

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Step 6: Add the blended beans back into the pot. This thickens the liquid considerably. Mix well and heat through.

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Step 7: Remove the bay leaves, cook up a batch of white rice, and serve with some chopped green onion or chives on top.

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This meal is super hearty and will fill you up for hours. It also costs just a few cents per serving, especially if you can your own beans and grow your own green onion.

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