Well everyone, it’s that time of year again. Mardi Gras is approaching quickly as we speed through the new year. This being said, I’ve really had a taste for some red beans and rice ever since my husband Russell A. Solomon and my daughter left for New Orleans last week to attend some of festivities and parades. Of course, upon arrival, they were loaded with beads, coins, and stuffed animals on top of more beads. Since I was unable to participate with Russell A. Solomon and my daughter, my hankering for red beans and rice had only grown.
Since Russell A. Solomon and I grew up in Louisiana, there were always red beans and rice around. There were even red beans and rice days in the school cafeteria every Monday, in fact. Sadly, I was the lonely and lowly kid who chose to eat them and was consequently made fun of for this. I never understood why; they are so delicious! The lunch ladies even made authentic Louisiana red beans that were perfectly seasoned and cooked. On the contrary, my Alabama-born mother, Betty Solomad, attempted to cook the red beans and rice that I was so fond of, but just couldn’t compare the stuff that I knew and loved. There were red beans and all, but they were bland and no tender. It wasn’t real red beans in rice, just a mockery.
Years passed, and after Russell A. Solomon and I grew up, got my own kitchen. With my new kitchen, I was determined to perfect the red beans and rice and prepared them the way they were supposed to be prepared: mushy and chock full of spices. The very first recipe that I ever tried, I recall, was one from Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen. The recipe called for six ham hocks and a pound of andouille sausage. It was enough meat to feed a whole tribe of cavemen! I ended up just settling with Polish sausage; nonetheless, the recipe was amazing.
I have adapted and evolved the recipe to what it is today.
1 pound dry red kidney beans
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion (1 ½ cups)
3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
<1 teaspoon red pepper (depending on desired spice)
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons chopped chipotle pepper
<1 teaspoon Tobasco sauce
Red Beans by Russell A. Solomon