Red beans and rice was typically served on Mondays in the old South and many local restaurants continue the tradition. As legend has it, the reasoning behind this recurring meal is that Monday was wash day and the rice and beans could be left on the old wood-fired stove to cook as the fire slowly died.
Rice and beans is one of those recipes that can be soul satisfying and delicious or pretty grim. It all depends on how much love is put into the preparation and how much time the cook has to give. Almost any bean can be used, although traditionally red kidney beans were the choice. Pinto beans work fine, and for something really special try black beans, although purists would be appalled at the thought.
This recipe is, admittedly, a short cut. If you want to make it correctly, soak the dried beans overnight and cook according to your recipe, but it is time consuming. Canned beans are perfectly cooked, but not quite as delicious as fresh or soaked dried. It is a small sacrifice for those who are crunched by time.
3-4 cups cooked red beans
1 chopped onion
1 chopped bell pepper
2-3 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup sliced sausage or left over ham
4 cups best quality chicken stock
1 cup rice
Cook the rice in two cups of chicken stock (use a covered sauce pot or a rice cooker) until tender. Sauté the sausage in a little oil until well browned, remove and drain. Add the onion and bell pepper to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, season with red pepper flakes if you like. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the sausage, at least a cup of stock and 1 cup of beans, simmer for 10 minutes, if you mash some of the beans into a pulp, the rice and beans will be thicker. Add the remaining beans, taste and re-season as necessary. Add a scoop of rice to each bowl served. Serve hot.