Red Beans and Rice

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Red beans and rice is the official Monday dish in New Orleans, on special menus in all kinds of restaurants all over town. Although most people agree on the recipe, the trend in recent years–especially in restaurants–has been to make the sauce matrix much thicker than what I remember from my youth. This version is the old (and, I think, better) style, with a looser sauce. The way my mother made it for us every Monday throughout my childhood. I have, however, added two wrinkles. One came from a radio listener, who advised that beans improve greatly when you add much more celery than the standard recipe calls for. The other is adding the herb summer savory. Both provide pleasant flavor complements. Red beans are classically served with smoked sausage, but they’re also great with fried chicken or grilled ham. But the ultimate is chaurice–Creole hot sausage–grilled to order and placed, along with all the dripping fat, atop the beans.

THE ULTIMATE: Fry skinless hot sausage and deposit it, along with as much of the fat as you can permit yourself, atop the beans. Red beans seem to have a limitless tolerance for added fat.

HEALTHY ALTERNATIVE: Leave the pork and ham out of the recipe completely and begin by sautéing all of the vegetables other than the beans in ¼ cup olive oil. At the table, pour extra-virgin olive oil over the beans. This may sound and look a bit odd, but the taste is terrific and everything on the plate–beans, rice, and olive oil–is a proven cholesterol-lowerer.

Serves6 to 8



Total Timea day or more

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Courseside dish

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free



Taste and Texturegarlicky, herby, savory


  • 1 lb. dried red beans
  • ½ lb. bacon or fat from a fresh or smoked ham, salt pork, or pork belly
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. dried summer savory
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco, plus more to taste
  • Salt
  • 6 cups cooked long grain rice
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped green onion tops, for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish


  1. Sort through the beans and pick out any bad or misshapen ones. Soak the beans in cold water overnight. When ready to cook, pour off the soaking water.

  2. Fry the bacon or ham fat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven until crisp. Remove the bacon or ham fat and set aside for garnish (or a snack while you cook).

  3. In the hot fat, sauté the garlic, celery, bell pepper, and onion until the vegetables just begin to brown. Add the beans and 1 gallon (16 cups) of water. Bring to a light boil, then lower to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, savory, black pepper, and Tabasco.

  4. Simmer the beans for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally. After about 1½ hours, fish out about ½ cup of beans and mash them. Return the mashed beans to the pot. Smash more of them if you like your beans extra creamy. Add a little water if the sauce gets too thick. Add salt and more Tabasco to taste. Serve the beans over rice cooked firm. Garnish with chopped green onion and parsley.



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