Red beans and rice


I shouldn't do this, probably, but here goes.

I'm from south Louisiana. Red beans and rice is a staple of life in my family. I've had red beans from the finest restaurants in New Orleans, to small out-of-the-way places, caterers, etc. Most are not very good. Even in south Louisiana most are not very good. Even here most people havent had good red beans. Chefs.....often get too fancy and ruin things in the process.

So I was going to share with you how to make the best red beans and rice there is. This is one of the finest meals you will eat in terms of comfort food. My yankee NJ italian wife begs for this when we run out. I usually make this in a 22 quart pot and freeze a bunch of it in little containers. But the recipe here will be for a 6 quart pot.

There's 4 secrets to real good red beans. The first is cumin. The second is fat. (Im sorry but if you think you're thinking you're going to eat heart healthy you are not going to eat good beans). Third is ham, 4th is good hickory smoked sausage.

The soft ham fat will completely break down and disappear but it is there and is where all the flavor comes from.

Things you need:

Leftover hambone with meat and fat. In a pinch smoked hocks or even ham steaks can be used. But you need fat. I usually buy a small picnic shoulder for a large pot. Theres a lot of meat, some breaks down but you want most to remain in large fall apart tender soft chunks when done.

2x 16 oz bags red beans
3 med onions...cut into 1/2" cubes
1.5 lb good hickory smoked sausage. I prefer conecuh these days and its sold at most walmarts.

Seems like a lot of sausage...well everyone wants 2 -3 pieces on every goes fast. Always runs out before beans are gone.

1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cayenne. Maybe reduce if you dont like spicy
1 tsp garlic
1 tbs salt
2 tbs cumin

Boil hambone and seasonings for 1 hr in 3.5 qts water
Cool, cut ham and fat off bone. Discard bone.
Cube meat in 3/4" cubes. Save good soft fat. Seperate it from tough skin/ hard outer layer.

Add beans to pot liquid, start boiling low. Its going to take hours, be patient. Put meat aside in refrig for a while. If its in pot it will completely fall apart by time beans are ready.

Take can put some in pot....or..i do a fat smoothie. Put fat in blender with a little water, puree on high. Add about 1/4 cup to pot. It will break down fast after doing this.

After several hours or so beans soften and pulp up. Once its to this point add the meat. Cook for another hour. On low. Beans should break down and make it thick....not watery.

Constant stirring every few minutes. Now meat will fall apart and burn on bottom. Add Water to thin if needed.

Slice sausage into 2- 3" lengths, poke holes in it with fork to let grease out. Put in pot, bring back to boil, simmer 30 min on low stir frequently. If you heat this too fast, or dont stir, you will burn it and ruin pot guaranteed. Nothing burns as easy as this. Keep pot bottom scraped clean....use flat edge spoon to stir.

If you mess up and burn it cause you left it....dont stir it, take as much into another pot as can to save without disturbing the burnt layer on bottom

Serve over rice.

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TVWBB All-Star
I'm smoking a whole ham in December for my homebrewer's club holiday dinner. I know that the bone is gonna get saved I just have to decide if I use Martin's or Case's..... decisions, decisions, decisions....
That's a good looking pot of beans. Back in the late 80's, I would eat at a cafe in the student union at LSU on Mondays. That's when they served red beans and rice that came with a full link of griddled smoked sausage for a ridiculously cheap price. I want to say it was about $3.

My wife makes the red beans at our house. Everyone has their secret ingredient. Some use a stick of butter to achieve what you did with the ham fat. She uses a local sausage, Down Home Hickory Smoked Sausage, that slow simmers and adds lots of fat and flavor to the pot.

She doesn't do that, but she does add a jar of Pace Picante Sauce (Get a rope!) early on. It sounds crazy, and I would dismiss it if I hadn't eaten it so many times. The salsa cooks down and becomes unrecognizable as the beans simmer. But its ingredients such as onion and peppers add nicely to the flavor of the dish.

For the rice, I like to go with Zatarain's. The LSU cafe ladies served rice that never stuck together in clumps. I couldn't figure out how they did that until I discovered Zatarain's parboiled rice. The grains stay separate.


Dave Mazz

First time I had red beans and rice was at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in 1985. My wife makes it a couple times a year. Always enjoy the flavor, the texture, and probably eat too much. But when it's so good, it's hard not to.

Timothy F. Lewis

TVWBB Hall of Fame
I’ve never used “parboiled” rice nor “converted” (a la Uncle Ben’s) rice. As a gentleman I respect very much (and personal heritage) my rice of choice is Thai Jasmine rice.
I have simply never considered it, maybe a shortcoming in my culinary education?
Cook well, be safe, enjoy life!