I mentioned in my introductory post that I grew up in Houston, Texas. My dad had some cousins just over the border in Lake Charles, Louisiana that we’d drive over and visit on the occasional weekends.
While there, our Uncle would take us kids and go crabbin’. What this meant was we’d tie chicken necks to a string and dangle them just under the surface of the water. When the crabs would swim up to try to grab a little snack, we’d scoop them up in a net. We’d take our bounty and Uncle JoeBobBillyRayBubba* would buy a mess of shrimp (that’s a technical measurement in the South) and some Old Bay to have an old-fashioned boil when we got back to his house.
While catching those suckers was fun for a pre-teen, my palate wasn’t quite as refined as it is today. Any kind of seafood or shellfish was on my “absolutely not gonna eat” list, so my Aunt whipped up some other Cajun delicacies like a pot of gumbo and some red beans and rice with thick chunks of sausage.
There are three things I distinctly remember from that first weekend:
- My older cousin, Darlene, had HBO in her room and I got my first education to sex from the R-rated movies we watched that whole weekend.
- I almost died from inhaling too much Old Bay aroma.
- I learned that I loved red beans and rice.
Every time after that when we visited, my Aunt would have a big pot cooked up just for me and that’s the only time I remember eating any when I was younger. I kind of forgot about that treat when I went off to college and when I began cooking for myself in my first apartments until one day a roommate did some shopping and came home with a pre-made mix in a paper envelope from Lipton. Needless to say, it didn’t compare to my Aunt’s cooking, but it served the purpose of reminding me of the dish I’d once loved.
With some help from my Mom, I tracked down my Aunt and a two-hour phone call later, I had managed to snag her recipe. She passed away quite a few years ago, but I know she wouldn’t mind if I shared it. Over the years since, I’ve made a few changes to suit my adult taste (more spice!) and cooking experiences, but its never too far from her basic recipe.
Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
- 1 pound dried red beans, soaked overnight
- 10 cups of water
- 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced into rounds then quartered (I use Polska Kielbasa instead)
- 1 large Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion), chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. Creole seasoning
- 6 fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 cup of the following, chopped: Salt pork, bacon or fat back, or a ham hock
- 4 cups cooked rice
Sort and soak your beans overnight. If you don’t know how to prep your beans, I did a post a couple weeks ago, The Magical Fruit that can help.
The next morning, drain the beans, rinse well and put them in a crock pot. Add the water.
Brown the sausage in a skillet, then drain off any excess grease (save it) and add it to the crock pot.
Use the drippings from the sausage to saute the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno, and garlic until tender. Add contents of the skillet to the crock pot. Add the black pepper, Creole seasoning, basil, and the pork/bacon/ham to the crock pot. Cook on low for 8 hours, until beans are tender. If too watery, remove lid and increase heat to high.
Serve over or mix into individual bowls of rice.
*Names changed to protect the not so innocent.