I lived in New Orleans for about 5 years–way back when. As one acclimates to new environments, the food in those locales slowly creeps into your palate and you become hooked. This has become a habit with me simply because I’ve moved way too much during my lifetime.
Anyway, in New Orleans one of the staples of food is red beans and rice. It was/is what critics and afficianados call “poor man’s food”. I would perhaps call it nutrition needed to climb out of the hole that you’re in. In any case, as we have come to know, thanks to the studies of those who would make us healthier, beans are chocked full of good stuff. In the case of Red Beans and Rice, you cannot go wrong, healthwise.
Another facet of my tenure in New Orleans was participation in a high school band–playing the trumpet. And no one from my generation (i.e., generation Baby Boomer) can forget the trumpet artistry of Louis Armstrong, or for that matter, Al Hirt.
I was delighted recently to discover a recipe from Louis Armstrong made from one of my (and his) favorite foods–beans (see elsewhere for a Greek recipe for cannellini beans). In what follows, I reproduce, without permission, Louis and Lucille Armstrong’s original recipe for “Creole Red Beans (Kidney) and Rice.” May the gods of copyright forgive me. For discussion of the history of this recipe and Louis Armstrong’s attitude toward food, see NPR’s fun take on this legendary musical icon’s culinary habits.
Creole Red Beans and Rice
Author: Louis and Lucille Armstrong
Prep time: 12 hours
Cook time: 6 hours
Total time: 8 hours
A wonderful combination of beans and ham–the ultimate “poor man’s food”.
- Use 2 qt. pot with cover
- 1 lb. Kidney Beans
- 1/2 lb. Salt Pork (Strip of lean, strip of fat)
- Slab Bacon may be used if preferred)
- 1 small can of tomato sauce (if desired)
- 6 small Ham Hocks or one smoked Pork Butt
- 2 onions diced
- 1/4 green (bell) pepper
- 5 tiny or 2 medium dried peppers
- 1 clove garlic – chopped
- Salt to taste
- Wash beans thoroughly, then soak over night in cold water. Be sure to cover beans.
- To cook, pour water off beans, add fresh water to cover. Add salt pork or bacon, let come to a boil over full flame in covered pot.
- Turn flame down to slightly higher than low and let cook one and one-half hours.
- Add diced onions, bell pepper, garlic, dried peppers and salt.
- Cook three hours. Add tomato sauce, cook one and one-half hours more, adding water whenever necessary.
- Beans and meat should always be just covered with water (juice), never dry. This serves 6 or more persons…..
- To prepare with Ham Hocks or Pork Butts…..
- Wash meat, add water to cover and let come to a boil in covered pot over medium flame.
- Cook one and one-half hours. Then add beans (pour water off), add rest of ingredients to meat.
- Cook four and one-half hours. Add water when necessary.
For non pork eaters, chicken fat may be used instead of salt pork. Corned beef or beef tongue may be used instead of ham hocks or butts.
As for the rice: –2 cups white rice –2 cups water –One teaspoon of salt –One pot with cover
Wash rice thoroughly, have water and salt come to a boil. Add rice to boiling water. Cook until rice swells and water is almost evaporated. Cover and turn flame down low. Cook until rice is grainy. To insure grainy rice, always use one and one-half cups water to one cup of rice…..
On dinner plate — Rice then beans, either over rice or beside rice as preferred. … Twenty minutes later — Bisma Rex and Swiss Kriss.