At my house, if it’s Monday, more than likely, it’s red beans and rice for dinner. I may have moved thousands of miles away from my New Orleans roots, but my cooking habits have changed very little. Buffalo has been added to my menu, but I still cook like a New Orleanian.
It’s a tradition to make a slow simmering pot of red beans on Mondays, and here’s a little background to tell you how the practice began.
The Louisiana tradition of cooking red beans and rice on Mondays began many years ago in the early 1900’s, when, as you can imagine, chores took a lot longer. Monday was considered “wash day” and the women of the house would put on a pot of beans to slow cook all day while the laundry was being cleaned. Southerners don’t like to waste, and left over Sunday ham was used as seasoning to flavor the beans.This made the meal not only delicious, but also economical. After a full day of washing dirty clothes, a tasty and nutritious meal of red beans and rice was served to the family.
Mondays are busy for me too. After a weekend of outdoor recreation or lounging around the house, there’s lots of stuff to catch up on. If I start the beans in the morning, (if it gets to be noon, it’s too late) I can get back into my weekday routine, and have a hearty meal ready at dinnertime without a lot of mealtime fuss.
Here’s my recipe for easy red beans and rice with andouille sausage.
- Rinse and sort 1 lb red beans. Put beans in a dutch oven and cover the beans with approximately 8 cups of water.
- Chop 1 lb andouille sausage and add to pot. I also use 2 medium sized ham hocks for extra flavor.
- Chop 1 onion, 2 stalks of celery and 2 cloves garlic. (This is known as the trinity and all good Creole cooks start their recipes with onion, celery, and garlic.) Add vegetables to pot. Add 1 bay leaf. Stir.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer slowly all day until dinnertime. When ready, beans should be soft and the mixture should be thick and creamy.
Garnish with green onion and if you like it extra spicy, add a drop or two of Tabasco.
Add a piece of garlic bread for a simple and satisfying New Orleans style meal you can serve any busy day of the week.
Tip: Freeze any leftovers for the next Monday’s meal.