Red Beans and Rice

Oh my beloved South.  Every year about this time I get a heavy dose of homesickness for Mississippi.  Mardi Gras will do that to anyone who has lived there.  Last year, I shared my recipe for Mississippi Gulf Coast Gumbo. This year, I had a special request for my Red Beans and Rice recipe.  So, here it is, just in time for Mardi Gras.

The Hubs and I always joke about Southern food.  I grew up as a military brat, but spent the most time in
Biloxi, Mississippi.  The Hubs served a mission for our church on Louisiana's Gulf Coast.  So we both have a certain affinity for Southern food.  The joke that we have is that all Southern food was created on a dare.   If you look at some of the ingredients in Southern food, you might cringe, be confused, or be intrigued.  For example, in this recipe, you will notice that I use bacon without draining the grease off (used to cook the vegetables).  I also use a ham hock (ham hock is the joint between the tibia and the connective tissues of the foot, where the foot was attached to the hog's leg).  And that's just THIS recipe.  But, you should try it.  Because this food is seriously comfort food.

The truth about Southern food, TRUE Southern food, is that most of it was created by slaves.  The slaves were given the "leftover" portions that the plantation owners wouldn't eat.  And they had to use that to create their meals.  Beans, tough vegetables, tough cuts of meat, things found in the swamp that NO PERSON would ever look at and think "This looks like it would be really tasty!"  Ever looked at a crawfish?  Yeah, not pretty.  But delicious nonetheless!

Now, for some specifics on Red Beans and Rice.  The most crucial part of the preparation process, THE ONE PART THAT YOU SHOULD NEVER EVER FORGET, is to soak the beans.  Overnight.  If you forget this step, you might as well not prepare the meal.  At all.  And if you absolutely cringe at the thought of using bacon grease to cook your vegetables, you can use salted butter instead (I'd use 2 Tbs.).  Do not use olive oil.  It will ruin the flavor.  One more tip for the road - resist any urge to add salt to the mixture until the very end. If you add the salt too soon, your beans will soak it up and make it too salty.  Don't add hot sauce until the end as well (I like to wait and allow each individual add hot sauce to their own bowls) - the long heat of the slow cooker will kill the spice and flavor.

Red Beans and Rice


1 lb. dried kidney beans
1/2 lb. bacon, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs. chicken stock powder
1 tsp. chili powder
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 ham hock
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1 cup water
1 lb. polish sausage, cut into 1/2 inch slices.
White Rice
Tabasco Sauce


1. The night before, sort through and rinse kidney beans.  Remove any stones.  Place beans in a large bowl and fill with water (more water is always better than less, the beans WILL double in size).

2. The morning of, rinse beans again and pour into slow cooker.  Cover with water plus about a half and inch extra.  Place lid on crock pot and turn onto high.

3. Cook bacon in a large skillet until edges begin to brown.  Do not remove grease.  Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic.  Cook until vegetables become tender.  Add vegetables and bacon to slow cooker.  Add chicken stock, chili powder, bay leaves, and pepper.  Gently stir to combine.  Add ham hock.  Replace cover and reduce heat to low.  Cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 on high.

4. When you've reached the last hour of cooking, remove ham hock and bay leaves.  Add salt, 1/2 tsp. at a time, until desired taste is reached.  Combine cornstarch and water in a shaker and shake until combined.  Slowly pour into beans to thicken the liquid.  Add sausage slices.  Cook rice.

5. Serve over warm rice with Tabasco Sauce if desired.

Serves 8-10
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