Red Beans and Rice

When I used to work in Cambridge MA, I would commute on the Mass Turnpike from our town of Northborough in Boston. There was a Popeye’s Chicken place on the Turnpike, which was easy on – easy off. On the way home, I would frequently stop and get their Red Beans and Rice, which is arguably one of their best items. I don’t know if they still make it or not, hope they do!

When we moved to California there was no Popeye’s in Santa Barbara and hence no Red Beans and Rice. Necessity being the “mother of invention,” we had to learn how to make it ourselves. This recipe comes from one of James’ cooking school textbooks called The Best Recipe, American Classics.

Today, we actually got some rain and it is unusually cold and windy for Santa Barbara; a good day to stay home and cook something hearty. So we made the beans, which we will have with rice tomorrow. To accompany the dish, I will also make Pickled Red Onion, which goes great as a topping.

Author: Jim Kirkley

It is worth looking for Andouille sausage for an authentic texture and flavor. If you want you can use 3 – 15 ounce cans of pinto beans in lieu of the dried kidney beans. Use the canned beans with their liquid and only 4 cups of water.

Serves: 4

Red Beans & Rice


2 ounces, bacon (about 2 slices) – diced
1 medium, onion – diced fine
1 medium, red bell pepper (green pepper is too bitter.) – stemmed, seeded, and diced fine
1 medium, stalk celery – diced fine
4 medium, cloves garlic – minced
1 teaspoon, ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon, cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon, Tabasco Sauce plus more to taste
1 teaspoon, dried oregano
1 teaspoon, dried thyme
4 bay leaves
1 pound, dried small red kidney beans (or canned pinto beans, see note)
1 pound, Andouille or Kielbasa sausage – halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch half circles
10 cups, water (if using dried beans, otherwise 4 cups with canned beans)
2 cups, chicken broth
6 cups, cooked long-grain white rice


  1. Heat an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium heat for 2 minutes, add the bacon, and cook until lightly browned and the fat has rendered, 5 to 6 minutes.
  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables have softened, about 8 minutes more.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the black pepper, cayenne, hot pepper sauce, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, beans, chicken broth, and 10 cups water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. (If using canned beans, add with their liquid, and only 4 cups of water.)
  5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are soft and the liquid thickens about 4 to 5 hours.
  6. Stir in the sausage and cook until the sauce is thick and creamy, about 30 minutes.
  7. Adjust the seasonings, adding more salt or hot pepper sauce as desired.
  8. Serve the beans in a shallow bowl over fluffy white rice.
  9. Garnish with scallions, cilantro, and/or pickled onions.


Author: Jim Kirkley

You are welcomed to add more jalapenos if you want more heat.

Serve with red beans and rice

Serves: 4

Pickled Red Onions


1/2 cup, white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon, sugar
4 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon, salt
1/2 cup, water
12 black peppercorns
1 medium, red onion – halved and sliced thin
1 jalapeno chili – stemmed, seeded and sliced thin (optional)


  1. Bring the vinegar, bay leaves, salt, peppercorns, and 1/2 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Stir in the onion and optional jalapeno, return to a boil, and remove the pan from the heat.
  3. Cool to room temperature and discard the bay leaves and the peppercorns.
  4. The pickled onions can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Always return to room temperature before serving.


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