A Southern Red Beans & Rice recipe combining two versions of red beans recipes I grew up enjoying ---with a Caribbean twist.
I am a true Louisiana boy and I can honestly say that I grew up eating red beans and rice (and white beans) on the regular. I had the opportunity to be raised by two grandmothers that made this dish constantly and even though they had their own spin, it was delicious in either home.
Beans and rice is an iconic dish in Louisiana and depending on which parish you grew up in, you would either find the red or white variety. Where New Orleans is known for its red beans, you’ll find white beans to be the staple side dish at spots across Southern Louisiana. I'm sharing my red beans recipe this time around.
What type of bean should I use?
For my beans and rice recipe, I generally opt for red beans or kidney beans. Although they both result in a great tasting pot of beans, they are slightly different. Despite their subtle differences in size and texture, they are both great options.
Red beans are small and oval in shape. They have a mild flavor and the texture is much creamier in comparison. You'll find these beans used heavily in Caribbean cuisine and generally the bean of choice when making Southern and Creole red beans and rice.
Kidney beans, on the other hand, are slightly larger, and they have a grainy texture. However, because of their firmness, they are difficult to overcook. They also maintain their shape and tend to absorb flavors well.
Do I need to soak my beans before cooking them?
When you buy beans they are typically dried. Because of this, they will need a little rehydration. If you consider the cooking time, you can opt to simply cook them longer, or you can hydrate them beforehand. This is the way I go.
This route ensures your red beans are not overcooked. Basically, soaking beans will reduce the cooking time and the texture of the beans will be ideal. But don't worry, if you are pressed for time, you can certainly cook your beans without soaking them at all.
Can I use canned beans for this recipe?
Alternatively, you can use canned beans and omit the soaking step. You'll want to drain any excess liquid beforehand. The remaining steps are the same and you'll simply adjust the cooking time to 30 minutes (versus 1 hour). This allows the seasonings and spices to soak in.
To put my spin on this traditional recipe, I decided to add some Caribbean spices and coconut milk. The coconut milk brings a wonderful velvet texture to the resulting broth.
I don't eat pork, but I grew up with red beans that incorporated ham hocks for added saltiness. Now I've replaced that with beef sausage to bring this recipe full circle.
If you need a good southern Louisiana recipe to satisfy the family for dinner give the Southern Red Beans & Rice a try and you will look forward to eating leftovers for days.
For more options, check out my other Southern side dishes:
- Creamy Cheddar Mashed Potatoes
- Easy Carrot Soufflé
- Quick & Easy Creamed Spinach
- Broccoli and Cheese Casserole
- Southern Creamed Corn