Ode to Laura: Her Famous Red Beans & Rice!

On August 9th we sadly lost my DH’s 92 year old mom…still vibrant, smiling, feisty, active, and healthy right up to her sudden and unexpected end. But that’s how we’ll remember her, laughing, enjoying her lite beer, hi-balls, crawfish, oysters, and her love of family to which she was tirelessly devoted. She loved the city of New Orleans, which she called home for most of her life. Even though she came there from Nicaragua she readily adopted their culture, food, and habits. And in New Orleans it’s a tradition to have red beans and rice on Mondays. Almost every restaurant will offer it as their Monday special and you will find it on the tables of most native New Orleanians’ homes every Monday night. You see, back in the day, Monday was your typical wash day and the women needed a meal that they didn’t have to watch over or tend while they were busy washing clothes and therefore otherwise occupied. Slow cooking red beans, (kidney beans in case you weren’t sure what a red bean was), fit that bill perfectly.
All varieties of Camellia Brand dry beans were a staple on our Louisiana pantry shelves. Laura followed the tradition and religiously made red beans every Monday… and hers were legendary. She made them not only on Mondays but for all family gatherings, parties, and special requests from her three grown kids. We’d all frequently ask her to make a batch just to have in our freezers for quick meals.
So to honor Laura today, this Monday, I am sharing her recipe and technique which she gave to me many years ago. If you follow it I promise you won’t be disappointed! So plan ahead and make red beans and rice next Monday for your family. Here’s to you, Laura. R.I.P.

Laura’s New Orleans Style Red Beans & Rice:
This is a pressure cooker method so it’s fast and easy! Please follow your pressure cooker instructions. Cookers should never exceed half full when cooking beans.
The night before you plan on cooking your beans soak 1 lb of dry red beans/kidney beans overnight. The next day discard the water and now your beans are ready to be cooked.
In your pressure cooker melt 2 TBLS bacon grease.
Fry 1 lg onion chopped and 1 lg green bell pepper chopped
Brown chucks of pickled pork, (about 8 oz) and 1 lb of an all beef smoked sausage, sliced into 1″ rounds. (Laura preferred all beef to pork yet I’ve used whatever was handy, but today we are being true to HER recipe!)
Add 2-3 chopped garlic cloves
Now add your soaked beans
Add a dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce
Season with onion powder and salt and pepper.

Cover beans with about 2 inches of water….Laura used the “width of her two fingers” method of measuring. Hummm, my fingers were bigger than hers so maybe add a little less water than 2 inches.

Bring pressure up in your cooker until you have a steady rocking  and then start timing 45 minutes from that point. Turn off or take cooker off fire after 45 minutes and let pressure drop of its own accord. Do not run water over the top or try to speed up the cooling. This stage is an important part of the cooking process.

After pressure valve depresses on it’s own you can open the lid. Using a potato masher, smash some of the beans to make it a creamy consistency, but leave some beans whole.

NOTE: while beans are cooking, be sure to cook your rice. It’s traditional to use a long grain white rice with red beans. Ratio is 2 cups of water to 1 cup rice. Salt water. Cover & bring to boil, add rice. Then simmer covered for 20 minutes. Fluff with fork only.

To serve ladle your beans in a rimmed plate or gumbo bowl, making sure to include meat in each portion. Then top with a large scoop of cooked rice. (I like to use my large ice cream scoop for a pretty rounded presentation).

Garnish with some parsley or chopped green onions. Be sure to have a bottle of Tabasco or Crystal Hot Sauce, (my all time favorite!), on the table for guests to heat it up to their own tastes.
Serve with fresh French bread.

Here's a batch my brother cooked. He was compelled to text me the photo to brag on their deliciousness.

Here’s a batch my brother cooked. He was compelled to text me the photo to brag on their deliciousness.