Born in New Orleans in 1901, Louis Armstrong, considered to be the founding father of jazz, loved Red Beans and Rice. He adored this dish so much that he signed all of his letters “Am red beans and ricely yours”
Almost every restaurant in New Orleans serves a version of this comforting icon. I have tried many a rendition of this soul-satisfying meal but nothing compares to my mother’s. Born and raised in the Crescent City, she made a mean pot of beans.
Red Beans and Rice is traditionally served on Mondays. For many Louisiana family’s, Sunday dinner centered around a ham, so it made perfect sense to use the bone for the following day’s meal. Even after my siblings and I grew up and were on our own, if ham was being served at mom’s, the negotiations began for the coveted bone.
- 2 pounds red beans
- 8 cups cold water
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup onions, diced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 pounds smoked ham shank or ham bone
- 1 teaspoon salt
Pick over beans, discard any bad ones as well as any small stones.
Bad bean surrounded by good beans.
Rinse beans and drain.
Place in a large pot (which you’ll use to cook the beans)
Cover the beans completely with cold water, cover and let soak on the counter overnight.
The next day, drain and rinse the beans. Put back in the pot with the water, broth, onion and bay leaves.
Bring to a boil, skim foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for one hour.
Add the ham shank, cook for another hour.
Remove the shank, when cool enough to handle remove the meat from the bone, add to the pot of beans with 1 teaspoon of salt.
Cook for 45 minutes or until beans are tender. They should break down a bit and become somewhat creamy in texture.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve over white rice.