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Red beans and rice is an emblematic dish of Louisiana Creole cuisine (not originally of Cajun cuisine) traditionally made on Mondays with red beans,1 vegetables (bell pepper, onion and celery), spices (thyme, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf) and pork bones as left over from Sunday dinner, cooked together slowly in a pot and served over rice. Meats such as ham, sausage (most commonly Andouille), and Tasso ham are also frequently used in the dish. The dish is customary – ham was traditionally a Sunday meal and Monday was washday. A pot of beans could sit on the stove and simmer while the women were busy scrubbing clothes. Similar dishes are common in Latin American cuisine, including moros y cristianos and gallo pinto.
Red kidney beans or small red beans are used and they are usually (but not always) soaked beforehand. Onion, celery, and usually a bit of garlic are sautéed briefly. Some people choose to include bell pepper, thus completing the trinity. The vegetables should be diced finely so that they will melt away once the dish is done. Meat is also a typical component of seasoning for the dish, with ham, tasso, pickled pork, and sausage being common ingredients456. The meat may be sautéed along with the vegetables or added directly to the beans. Seasoning includes salt, thyme, bay leaf and cayenne pepper. While Cajun (and to a lesser extent Creole) cooking is often thought of as being very spicy, red beans are prepared on the mild side and are usually served with a bottle of hot sauce nearby.
Red beans typically take about two hours to cook, although it is common to allow the beans to cook slowly for a longer period of time. Finished red beans range from soup-like consistency to a creamier texture, though the latter is more common. Though the creaminess of the finished dish may vary greatly between preparation, the beans themselves should never be overly firm or crunchy. To increase the creaminess of the beans, some cooks choose to mash up to a quarter of the beans in the last half hour or so of cooking (smash the beans against the side of the pot using the back of a large spoon). To get an even creamier texture, some chefs will gradually incorporate butter into the beans during the last ten minutes.
Some people will cook smoked sausage with the beans, but traditionally, the sausage or pork chops were cooked on the side.