New Orleans Red Beans & Rice
Today I must share a story I’m a little ashamed of – When Tony and I had been going out for a few weeks we made a trip to our local thrift store in Colorado, what we were shopping for, I can’t recall. What I do recall is sneaking away to an empty aisle to quietly pass some gas, then deserting the area because what came out of me would have knocked hades unconscious. A few moments later, Tony rounds the corner and goes “Oh my god that old man just let one rip and it smells so bad!” Caught in the insecurities of my own odor and a new relationship I nodded in agreement and let the blame fall on the unsuspecting old man.
It took me about six months before I fessed up to Tony who thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard. I am happy to say we reached the stage in the relationship early where everyone can participate in the healthy habit of passing gas whenever necessary and not feel ashamed of their basic, bodily functions.
Why am I sharing this story with you today? Red beans my friend… I cannot think of red beans without considering the mouth-twisting pain that accompanies their consumption the following day. Therefore I don’t eat beans that often. But moving to New Orleans, red beans and rice are prepared in such a way you cannot help but to scarf down a bowl while wondering why these haven’t been a staple your whole life.
I was a little intimidated by cooking raw beans. If not cooked properly they can make you sick (Which Tony helpfully reminded me of several times while I was attempting the recipe) and you’re supposed to soak them for a long time, perhaps discard the soaking water and then boil them again? It would seem all the recipes online contradicted one another. Fortunately, the grandmotherly cook with a sharp tongue that I met at New Orleans School of Cooking took the fear right outta me. She had no time for the science of cooking beans, you just cook em!
“Mondays in New Orleans are for red beans and rice” she says… Monday’s used to be laundry day so you would start a pot of red beans and simmer them all day, stirring in between loads of laundry washed by hand. Red beans and rice are one of the easiest, least pretentious things you could make. This dish was created by people who had no money and could only cook with what they had. If you remembered to soak the beans, great! If not, add another hour to the cook time. If you’re lucky enough to have a ham bone all the better! If it’s water and vegetables that day, just smash up some of the beans and get on with your week. So whatever you do, don’t be intimidated by red beans, they’re meant to make your Mondays better.