Recipe: Red Beans and Rice, Minus the Rice
Serves: 4 hearty eaters
Coffee: Lousiane, our smoky Southern-influenced blend
When it comes to food with a sense of time and place, there is no better location than the great city of New Orleans. Although NOLA has plenty of fine dining, it also remains an incredible source of everyday food, from the muffuletta and Zapp’s Cajun Crawtators potato chips (dusty with shrimp boil spices) to oyster po’ boys and beignets.
But the most iconic regional dish might be red beans and rice, a stew pot traced back to the city’s French and Spanish-influenced flavors and Afro-Caribbean cooking style. Traditionally made on “wash-day” Monday, the beans are placed in a pot with Sunday’s ham bone and left on the back of the stove to simmer while the laundry gets done.
Whether the local claim that the genuine cult brand Camellia red beans just cook up “creamier” is culinary superstition or common sense, no one in NOLA gets a pot going without them. Following Hurricane Katrina, displaced residents hungry for home, called the factory office wondering where they could get their beans. The company is now in its fourth generation, and the founder’s great-grandson figures that it ships enough Camellia reds to make more than thirty-seven million plates of red beans and rice a year.
Get them here:
- The people of New Orleans are proud to tell you that local-boy-made-good Louis Armstrong used to sign his letters: Red beans and ricely yours.
With the opening of our new bakery in the Philadelphia neighborhood of Fishtown, all we think about is bread, bread, and bread. So we omitted the rice, and served our red beans over toasted house-made English muffins. That’s what you’ll see through our coffee window.
1 lb. dried red beans, picked over and rinsed
3 quarts water
1 meaty ham bone (or 2 meaty ham hocks)
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 cup diced green pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon ground all spice
Coarse to taste (depends upon ham)
In a large stockpot, bring 1-1/2 quarts water to a boil. Add red beans, and cook at a boil for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat, and allow beans to soak for one hour.
Drain beans, and set aside. Rinse the pot, add remaining water, and return to medium heat. Add ham bone/hocks, bay leaf, thyme and red pepper flakes. Bring to boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add drained beans.
Place olive oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat, and cook celery, onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until the edges of the vegetables begin to color, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add allspice and cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are coated. Stir mixture into stockpot, lower heat, and simmer until beans are cooked but not mushy, about 2 hours. Remove the ham bone/hocks, and if particularly meaty, remove bits of meat, cutting away any connective tissue, and add to the beans. Discard bones.
Ladle over toasted English muffins, and scatter with scallions.