This recipe for Cajun Red Beans and Rice comes to you from a recipe box filled with so much love, I do not even know how to describe it. This recipe box and the people who gave it to me, have become a special memory of mine. We were stationed at Laughlin AFB from 2001 until 2003. This base sits in a desolate area 150 miles due west of San Antonio and just a stone’s throw from the Mexican border. When I found out we were moving there, I cried. For several reasons. I will admit, the location was not the garden spot of the US and the fact that our eldest had just started her Senior year in High School threw me for a loop. Anyway, long story short, despite all the negative feelings, it was one of the best assignment we ever had in the Air Force.
What made this assignment so special were the people we had the opportunity to live and work with. My husband was in charge of all the flying operations at the base for student pilots, and for the supervision and well being of their instructors and all of their families. When I say work, for me as a military spouse, that meant I had the fun “job” of welcoming and acclimating the new spouses to the base and the wonderful community of Del Rio, TX. In addition, I was responsible for the celebrations for the young spouses of the student pilots as they graduated from pilot training. Now, mind you, new classes arrived and graduated every three weeks throughout the year. But, thankfully I did not have to do it all alone. I had the honor of working with the most amazing group of military spouses during this assignment. They helped me plan weekly social events for students, instructors, spouses and children. Of course there was wonderful food and recipes shared at every event. These women were my guardian angels, worker bees, and happy elves, always bringing their awesome creations to brunches, parties, meetings and any other event you can imagine.
Upon my departure, this amazing group of women, knowing my love for cooking, gave me a beautifully hand painted recipe box, thanks to the incredibly talented Linda Moore. It was filled with recipes from each one of them…recipes from their families, recipes they had used over the years as spouses and recipes we all shared during our time at Laughlin AFB. It was one of the most heartfelt gifts I have ever received. Recipes from moms who cooked for their children. Recipes from relatives and grandparents that have been passed down through the years. Recipes from creative cooks who have a passion for cooking like I do. Recipes I have since used and now share with others.
This particular dish for Cajun Red Beans and Rice was one of those recipes tucked inside my beautiful recipe box. I wanted to share it with you just in time for Mardi Gras. It is the real deal. An authentic recipe from a Cajun mother-in-law. Now you know, the best, no nonsense recipes come from those “tried and true”, passed down through the family kind of recipes.
This recipe starts with dry, red beans that are slowly cooked for hours. Then a subtle smoky flavor comes in with the addition of salt pork. Next, a kick of seasoning comes from the addition of the Andouille sausage and Tony Chachere’s seasoning. And no Cajun recipe would be complete with out the Holy Trinity…onion, celery and green peppers. Simple flavors that make an incredible, soul warming dish. Thank you Kara for giving this wonderful recipe to me.
It is memories like these that have brought me here today. A home cook who has a love of new recipes, the ones shared with me, so that I can, in turn, share them with you. If you are looking to complete a Mardi Gras buffet, also check out these gumbo and King Cake recipes. So, from my recipe box to yours, Happy Cooking!
- 1 lb bag dry red kidney beans
- ¾ lb salted pork, trimmed and cut into 1 inch chunks
- 1 1lb link of Andouille sausage, diced
- ½ cup green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped (about 3 large cloves)
- 3 stalks of celery, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning (optional) OR
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 cups white rice, cooked according to package directions (See note)
- Sliced green onions, for garnish
- In a large dutch oven or stock pot, place the dried beans. Cover with water, rinse and pick out any beans that are split or discolored. Drain and cover with water again. Let sit overnight.
- Drain the beans again. Pour in 8 cups of water. When the water starts to turn color, add the pork, sausage, bell pepper, onion, garlic, celery and bay leaf.
- Let it cook for 1 hour, covered, on a low boil.
- Taste the juice. If it does not need any more salt, do not add the Tony Chachere's Seasoning.
- Instead, add the cayenne to taste.
- Cook for 3 more hours covered, on medium heat.
- Take 1 cup of the beans out and mash them. Return them to the pot to thicken mixture.
- Cook for 1 more hour.
- Garnish with green onions.
- Serve with cooked white rice and warm French Bread.