Coast Cooking

Coast Cooking: Mondays are for red beans and rice

By JULIAN BRUNT

Special to the Sun Herald

Red beans and rice are traditionally eaten on Mondays in the South.
Red beans and rice are traditionally eaten on Mondays in the South.

Biloxi and much of the Gulf Coast are a bit quirky when it comes to food.

Frying a whole crab and eating it on French bread? Red beans and rice on Monday?

That’s not a criticism. I love the local food ways, and they have been incorporated into my menu and repertoire. But did you ever wonder why we eat red beans and rice on Monday?

It’s a simple answer: In the old days Monday was wash day and the cook needed to be able to put something on the stove that required little attention.

Beans were soaked overnight, placed in a large pot, covered with water, and a vegetable or two and some ham hocks were added. The pot was placed on the wood-fired stove when breakfast was over, and the gradually cooling stove would do all the work.

RED BEANS AND RICE

1 cup rice

2 cups water or stock

2-3 cups red beans

1 large chopped onion

1 large chopped bell pepper

3-5 cloves chopped garlic

2-4 ham hocks or 1-2 cups chopped ham or sausage

Salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes

Soak the beans overnight; then drain. If you are using ham or sausage, brown thoroughly, remove and set aside. Sauté the vegetables in the same pan for 5 minutes, add the beans, and ham hocks, if you are using them, cover with water or stock and simmer for 20 minutes, add the sausage or ham and cook slowly until tender. Combine rice and water and steam until tender, about 20 minutes. Top each bowl of beans with a scoop of rice.

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