It was rainy and cold and dark all weekend, which was perfect for my mood. We pretty much huddled in our apartment for two days straight, playing Madden, watching scary movies, eating takeout, playing darts, and drinking beers. It was, to say the least, very renewing.

So today for Sunday dinner we wanted something along those same lines – something renewing, something hearty, something with a lot of protein, something that would get us prepared for Monday morning. The answer was obvious: one of our favorite dishes, my maternal grandmother’s red beans and rice recipe.

This classic Louisiana Creole dish was traditionally served each Monday night, using the leftover ham from Sunday dinner. It also gave women a break from cooking on Monday, the traditional wash day, since the beans are easy to prepare and made to simmer on the stove throughout the day. Sure, you can always run down to New Orleans, where red beans and rice is usually served as the Monday lunch special at local restaurants, or you could cook some up yourself, whenever you pleased.

I find it to be an awesome, original alternative to chili to make for Sunday and Monday night football game get-togethers – it’s spicy and it sits well all day so that guests can fix a bowl whenever they’re hungry. The best part is that it is both easy to freeze and tastes awesome after being reheated. Oh, and it’s dirt cheap to make, which is probably another reason my mom grew up eating it so often along with her seven brothers and sisters on a little farm in Louisiana.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound bag of dried kidney beans
3 ribs of celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced, or ham hocks or left over ham (I put in both sausage and diced ham, and it is awesome)
1/2 t. black pepper
Cayenne pepper (until it’s as spicy as you’d like)
Salt to taste (The sausage/ham will add salt, so be careful.)

  • Rinse and sort red beans; soak for at least a couple of hours.
  • Drain beans.
  • Sauté celery, onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of butter (or some extra virgin olive oil)
  • Add sausage or ham or both.
  • Add about10 cups of water, beans and bay leaf.
  • Bring to boil; Simmer for 2 hours or until beans are tender. Add more water if necessary.
  • Smash some of the beans against the side of the pot to thicken the beans once they are tender.
  • Serve over hot rice.

You can also cook them in a crock pot overnight or during the day while you’re at work. I always make a pan of cornbread to go with it. I also make it healthier by trimming the fat off of the ham, using spicy turkey sausage, and eating it over brown rice.

Go to last week’s Sunday night dinner: steaks and cheesy potatoes.