Red beans and rice

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Red beans and rice
Red Beans and Rice.jpg
Red beans and rice
Place of origin United States
Region or state Louisiana
Main ingredients Red beans, rice, onions, celery, bell pepper, pork bones, spices
Cookbook:Red beans and rice  Red beans and rice
A plate of red beans and rice with sausage from The Chimes restaurant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays with red beans,[1] vegetables (bell pepper, onion and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly Andouille), and Tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish. The dish is customary - ham was traditionally a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. The dish is now fairly common throughout the Southeast. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos and gallo pinto.

Red beans and rice is one of the few New Orleans style dishes to be commonly served both in people's homes and in restaurants. Many neighborhood restaurants continue to offer it as a Monday lunch special, usually with a side order of either smoked sausage or a pork chop. While Monday washdays are largely a thing of the past, red beans remain a staple for large gatherings such as Super Bowl and Mardi Gras parties. Indeed, red beans and rice is very much part of the New Orleans identity. Jazz trumpeter and New Orleanian Louis Armstrong's favorite food was red beans and rice - the musician would famously sign letters "Red Beans and Ricely Yours, Louis Armstrong”.[2]

The vegetarian dish Rajma chawal[3] is very similar (which translates literally to red beans and rice), popular in North India. Red beans and rice is also a dietary staple in Central America, where it is known as "arroz con habichuelas". The dish is popular in Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Haitian and Jamaican cuisine as well.

History[edit]

When the slave rebellion in Haiti (formerly Saint Domingue) began, many of the rich white sugar planters fled to Louisiana, the other main possession of France in the New World at the time. They brought with them red beans from the Caribbean. Red beans and rice was created in the kitchens of New Orleans' French Quarter. The dish quickly gained in popularity and became a fixture of the cuisine of New Orleans.

Preparation[edit]

Red kidney beans or small red beans are used and they are usually (but not always) soaked beforehand. Onion, celery, and usually a bit of garlic are sautéed briefly. Some people choose to include bell pepper, thus completing the trinity. The vegetables should be diced finely so that they will melt away once the dish is done. Meat is also a typical component of seasoning for the dish, with ham, tasso, pickled pork, and sausage being common ingredients.[4][5][6] The meat may be sautéed along with the vegetables or added directly to the beans. Seasoning includes salt, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. While Cajun (and to a lesser extent Creole) cooking is often thought of as being very spicy, red beans are prepared on the mild side and are usually served with a bottle of hot sauce nearby.

Red beans typically take about two hours to cook, although it is common to allow the beans to cook slowly for a longer period of time. Finished red beans range from soup-like consistency to a creamier texture, though the latter is more common. Though the creaminess of the finished dish may vary greatly between preparation, the beans themselves should never be overly firm or crunchy. To increase the creaminess of the beans, some cooks choose to mash up to a quarter of the beans in the last half hour or so of cooking (smash the beans against the side of the pot using the back of a large spoon). To get an even creamier texture, some chefs will gradually incorporate butter into the beans during the last ten minutes.

Some people will cook smoked sausage with the beans, but traditionally, the sausage or pork chops were cooked on the side.

Presentation[edit]

White rice is cooked separately. Sausage may be cooked and served separately or may be sliced and incorporated into the beans during cooking. When being served buffet style for a party, the rice and beans should be kept apart and assembled as needed by the guests. When served on a plate, the rice is usually mounded in the center, perhaps with a bit of parsley. The beans are spooned all around the rice, and if sausage has been prepared separately a piece is placed on one side. Chopped green onion is an optional garnish, and a bottle of hot sauce should always be available.

See also[edit]

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