My on Again & off Again Love Affair with Red Beans and Rice
Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, says New Orleans living to me like a giant pot of Creole red beans and rice. Throw me in a hunk of corn bread for good measure and you will be left with an extremely happy man! It is the definition of comfort food to us New Orleans folk. Eating red beans on a Monday is one of those things that makes me feel that all is right with the world.
Why red beans and rice on Monday you ask?? Well, tradition in these parts holds that Monday was the family’s laundry day. The family would be preoccupied scrubbing the family clothes clean and hanging them out on a clothesline to dry. Yes! We had a clothesline in our back yard where my grandmother would hang up the freshly washed clothes and let the sun do it’s magic. We did eventually acquire a clothes drier, but Ma-Dea still put her clothes outside to dry! But I digress…
With the hustle and bustle of Monday laundry there was a need for food that could be cooked without much time and attention. Red beans fit the bill. Usually made in a gigantic stockpot, it only needs stirring once every hour or so. You go about your day unhampered by the demands of a hot kitchen, and end up with an inexpensive and delicious dinner. My own recipe has evolved into an even simpler process by using a crockpot that you can set when you leave for work in the morning, ready to serve when you return home.
Some kids grow up eating a lot of mac and cheese. Growing up in NOLA, we ate a LOT of red beans and rice… and when I say a lot I mean we ate an insane amount! By my crude estimate, I had eaten red beans and rice for dinner well over 1000 times by my 18th birthday. The recipe makes more than you will likely need and freezes extremely well, so my mother was a big fan of thawing them out again for dinner on a Wednesday (Arrgggggggg… just had a flashback). You can imagine that by the time I started college I literally never wanted to see another plate of red beans. But after I moved onto campus a strange thing happened… I started to miss red beans and rice. By the time I graduated from college I actually craved the dish! In hindsight, I think there is an initial tendency to avoid anything you were forced to eat that much of as a child. But after all… that familiarity, mixed with the nostalgic memories of simpler times is what makes comfort food so comforting. It’s as if it becomes a part of our genetic makeup.
So I began pestering my mom and aunties for their recipes. Each was slightly different and gradually I developed my own. I work insane hours, so stirring a pot, even infrequently, was not feasible. Not to mention, leaving a pot on an open flame while out of the home is frowned up by the New Orleans Fire Department. So to avoid burning down the house, I developed a recipe suitable for a slow cooker… and while I was tweaking, I went ahead and made it low fat and high flavor!
This guilt free treat is packed with protein and fiber, gluten free, and can easily be modified for vegans. You can and should enjoy this dish no matter where you are in the world! However, there is one caveat I must tell you that I have absolutely no explanation for… for some reason red beans and rice always tastes better on a Monday! Bon Appetite!
Enjoy your culinary creation, show me your pictures on snapchat or Instagram, and PLEASE don’t force your kids to eat this twice a week!
Food is Love,