New Orleans Red Beans and Rice For Those in Need #SundaySupper

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red beans and rice

Red Beans and Rice – A New Orleans Tradition

“Red beans and ricely yours.”

That’s how famous Jazz musician Louis Armstrong used to sign his letters.

Plainly, red beans and rice is not so plain here in South Louisiana. It might be a staple food, but it is spicy, rich, and delicious. And it is a Louisiana tradition.

All across South Louisiana, Mondays are considered Red Beans & Rice days. Legend has it that Mondays were wash days. Back before electric washers and dryers, clothes had to be washed by hand. It was work. And it took time. Lots of time. That meant there wasn’t much time for cooking on Mondays. So, folks would put a pot of red beans on the stove on low heat and let them cook down while they did the wash.

Red beans are pretty simple, so folks would throw a ham bone or some sausage into the pot to add a bit of flavor.

Nowadays, this simple dish is simply amazing. Some folks simply cannot abide not eating their red beans and rice on Mondays. Restaurants (and home kitchens too) all across South Louisiana have pots of red beans on the stove on Mondays. What can we say? We like tradition. Tradition is good.

Hurricanes Katrina & Sandy

Red beans and rice is a communal meal, a family meal. It is meant to be shared. It is the perfect meal to share with those in need.

And speaking of those in need….

Down here in New Orleans, we know what it is to be in need. Hurricane Katrina did a number on us seven years ago. It was the storm we always feared would hit us. Food was one of the first things that helped folks feel like things were returning to normal.

In the wake of the storm, Chef John Besh provided red beans & rice for the first responders. Tom Fitzmorris made a new career for himself by tracking and publishing the re-opening of restaurants throughout the city. And New Orleanians scattered across the country longed for their familiar fare and wrote in to the Times-Picayune looking to recover cherished recipes lost in the storm. All those letters and emails sent to the Times-Picayune newspaper were eventually compiled into a book of recipes by Judy Walker and Marcelle Bienvenu. Its title? Cooking Up a Storm: Recipes Lost and Found from the Times-Picayune of New Orleans.

Food is life. Food connects people. Food brings people together.

Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast of the country just a few weeks ago. Recovery is still ongoing. Food cannot fix all problems, but it can bring people together, and it can lift the hearts of men, women and children everywhere.

This recipe, New Orleans Red Beans and Rice, is one that can certainly lift the hearts of those going through hard times because of Hurricane Sandy.

Big Pot Cooking For Those In Need

I’ve said it before, big pot = big love. Share the love. It’s meant to be shared.

This is a big pot of beans. There will be plenty to go around. Just make sure that you have enough long grain rice on hand (and New Orleans French bread, if you can get it!).


  • 2 lb dried red kidney beans (I prefer Camellia brand)
  • 2 lb pork sausage (smoked or andouille)
  • 2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed with a mortar & pestle
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • Long grain rice (prepared according to package directions)
  • Hot sauce for serving (Crystal, Tabasco, or Louisiana Hot Sauce)


  1. Soak the beans overnight in a large bowl. Make sure the beans are covered by at least 3 inches of water.
  2. Drain the water, rinse the beans, and set aside.
  3. Degrease the sausage in a large Dutch oven or stock pot. Remove sausage, slice into half-moons, and set aside.
  4. Sauté the onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic in the sausage grease until softened. Add a little oil (preferably coconut oil or regular olive oil… not extra-virgin), if needed.
  5. Add the beans to the pot along with the sausage.
  6. Pour 16 to 2o cups of water over the beans. Make sure you cover the beans by at least a couple of inches.
  7. Bring to a boil and add the salt, cayenne, and bay leaves.
  8. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1.5 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Stir occasionally. Add water during simmer, if necessary.
  9. To make the beans creamier, mash some of the beans against the sides of the pot toward the end of the cook time.
  10. Check seasoning and adjust, adding salt, cayenne, black pepper to taste.
  11. A couple of minutes before serving, stir in a handful of the parsley and a handful of the green onions. Provide the remaining parsley and green onions as garnish for individual plates or bowls.
  12. Serve over white rice. Have hot sauce on hand for those who would like to add a little kick to it.

#Sunday Supper

I have lots of friends who just love to cook for #SundaySupper, and they are coming together this week to cook up some recipes to help those in need as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

Just in case you aren’t familiar with #SundaySupper, let me explain. #SundaySupper was started by my friend Isabel of to help bring families together Around the Family Table. It’s a wonderful mission, and it’s something I feel very passionate about. This is a great group of folks, and I am proud to be among them.

A Word From This Week’s #SundaySupper Hostess, Liz Berg

I am delighted to announce the wonderful line up for our upcoming Sunday Supper. How apropos that I am revealing the Helping Hands theme on Thanksgiving. So many of us are graced with an abundance of blessings…never worrying about food, gas, shelter. But just one disaster can change that overnight…just like those who endured the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

I usually take a plate of cookies or a quick bread when one of my friends or a family is suffering…whether it’s a health issue or the wrath of nature, like a hurricane or tornado, food made from the heart offers comfort. But when a family loses a home or their home is rendered unlivable, a piping hot casserole or soup is even more desirable. I hope you are inspired to offer a helping hand…whether through food or a charitable donation.  Check back on Sunday to see all these marvelous recipes from my Sunday Supper friends. We will also share a couple links if you’d like to donate to the cause….helping those affected by Hurricane Sandy. When we come together, we can make a difference.

Breakfast and Brunch:

Comforting Casseroles and Entrées:

Warming Soups and Sides:

Sweet Endings:

If you are interested in making a donation to help the hurricane victims, here are links to the two charitable organizations we recommend:



Please join on us on Twitter for #SundaySupper on November 25, 2012, throughout the day. In the evening, we will meet at 7 PM EST for our weekly #SundaySupper live chat.

All you have to do is follow the #SundaySupper hashtag or you can follow us through TweetChat.

We’d also love to feature your recipe ideas for #HelpingHands on our #SundaySupper Pinterest board so we can share them with all of our followers.

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  • Renee Dobbs

    Red beans and rice is such a comforting meal. Hearty too. I like this big pot recipe because I do enjoy making large batches and sharing or freezing the extra.

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Renee!

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  • Jen @JuanitasCocina

    I can imagine you know all too well what it’s like to suffer the devastation of a hurricane. I’m glad you shared a fabulous dish, and your amazing sentiments to accompany it.

    • Jeff Young

      Thank you so much! I am always amazed by power of food to bring people together. It’s almost miraculous. It touches something deep within us. We are offering prayers, too, for all those impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

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  • Wendy

    Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast, I’ve dealt with a few hurricanes too…always scary! I adore red beans and rice, but have never made from scratch. That’s going to change…this would be great to serve at our next Texans gameday spread!

    • Jeff Young

      Awesome, Wendy! Let me know how it turns out! I’d love to see some pics too. 😉

  • Isabel Foodie

    Jeff, Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post and recipe… I can’t even imagine what everyone involved has gone through. I love that we can come together as a community and make a difference in the lives of others!

    • Jeff Young

      It is certainly a gift, Isabel. I mean the very ability to give and to help is a gift from God. And food is such a beautiful way for us to bring that gift to others. Thank YOU for promoting (so strongly and effectively) Sunday Supper!

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  • beate weiss-krull

    I agree with you, food is life and it is our common thread. It keeps us going and a bowl of red beans and rice sounds like a perfect warming dish. I am so excited that you posted this recipe as we love beans, and the idea of having a big pot of it sounds fantastic ~ Bea

    • Jeff Young

      Bon appetit! I’m really wanting some red beans right now. But I have a turkey in the oven! Our Thanksgiving was delayed because of illness… so I’m running a bit behind this weekend. But red beans are definitely going on the menu for this week!

  • Sunithi Selvaraj

    Rice & bean is comfort food to me ! Love this jazzed up version. Will be trying this. Love the idea behind the rice & beans. It is a very basic food & can be tweaked in so many ways. Thanks for sharing your memories of Katrina. Yes food does bring people together.

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks Sunithi! We are cooking a belated Thanksgiving dinner today. We were set back because of illness. Kind of a bummer, but we can never squeeze all our celebrating into one day, no matter the holiday, so it’s fine with us. But all this talk about red beans and rice has me wanting some! I’ll have to put them on the menu this week…. Right after the pepper-stuffed turkey and the turkey and andouille gumbo. 😉

  • Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    Nice story behind this dish. It sounds like a great easy meal any day of the week!

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks! You are absolutely right!

  • Paula @ Vintage Kitchen

    Nice story behind this dish. It sounds like a great easy meal any day of the week!

  • Tara

    Lovely post and great recipe!!

    • Jeff Young


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  • Lyn

    I enjoyed reading your post today. I’ve experienced a few hurricanes so I know what its like to not have electricity or water for days (or weeks!) and limited food. Never to the extent of Katrina!! I’m happy that #SundaySupper is making a contribution to relief efforts for Superstorm Sandy. This red beans and rice recipe sure peaked my interest! Very comforting!

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Lyn! Yes, red beans and rice is comfort food at its finest. I wish I was having some today (it’s Monday!), but our Thanksgiving at home was delayed a couple of days because of illness. I just cooked my turkey yesterday! Today will be a turkey and andouille gumbo day. Bon appetit!

  • Lizzy Do

    You certainly can relate to the awful destruction on the East coast. And your red beans and rice would be a delicious gift to anyone needing a meal or comfort.

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Lizzy! I appreciate the kind words!

  • Sarah Lee

    What a meaningful story to a dish that brought comfort to those in need.

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Sarah!

  • Sarah_R

    Definitely agree that big pot = big love. This pot surely warmed the hearts of many!

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Sarah! You are so right! I appreciate the comment.

  • Cupcakes&KaleChips

    Red Beans & Rice is the perfect meal to connect people going through similar circumstances. This Jersey girl thanks you :-)

    • Jeff Young

      You’re welcome! And you are absolutely right! Bon appetit!

  • Laura Hunter

    I really enjoyed reading your post, it was Hurricane Katrina that brought my dad into working with Hope Force. He arrived in Biloxi 8 hours after the storm passed to try and find some friends of his that road out the storm. Thankfully they some how survived although their house didn’t. I agree that food doesn’t fix the problems but like you said it bring people together and helps warm the soul.

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Laura! Wow, your dad must have had a powerful experience… being on the coast so soon after the storm had passed. He was an agent of HOPE! Thanks to everyone who helps following a storm!

      • Laura Hunter

        He said it was one of the most intense thing he has ever witnessed in his life, the devastation was more then he could take in and sadly he did witness 3 bodies. 5 days after the storm he asked me to come down and capture some images of the destruction, the photo below was a house that was taken down the street and landed in the gas station. It just amazes me how devastating wind and water can be.

        • Jeff Young

          Wow. That is amazing. Events like Katrina and Sandy certainly help us to put life in perspective. We quickly come to see what is important and what is not.

  • Alice Choi

    I love this post! And love that you shared how Chef John Besh provided red beans & rice for the first responders. what a perfect and great dish to share for this week! Love this!

    • Jeff Young

      Thanks, Alice!

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