Food & Drink

Bring on the bon temps with a speedy red beans and rice

Mardi Gras draws nigh, igniting a hankering for red beans and rice. The vegetables for this Creole dish are typically long simmered with some type of pork product, so we consulted an expert — Washington chef-restaurateur and New Orleans native David Guas — for a quicker remedy and a couple of tips.

He suggested shortcuts such as canned/cooked kidney beans, which are widely available, rather than Camellia brand’s dried red kidney or pink beans, and smoked pork sausage for the meaty component, because a ham hock might not be on hand. The “trinity” of green bell pepper, onion and celery that figures in so many Crescent City recipes is modified just a tad, swapping in scallions for the latter.

The simmer’s reduced to a mere 25 minutes, with a key step: mashing some of the beans against the side of pot, to thicken the brew. Long-grain white rice is the standard accompaniment, with a bottle of Louisiana-style hot sauce at the ready. At some point in his childhood, Guas says, somebody told him that a plop of yellow mustard was even better than the hot sauce, and that’s how he tops his red beans and rice to this day. We tried it, and approve!

Speaking of endorsements, Guas admits to a favorite type of red beans and rice: the signature side at Popeyes. “And I don’t care who knows it,” he says. We get that. Laissez les bons temps rouler.