Louis Armstrong's Red Beans and Rice

Updated: Oct 13

Source: foodandwine.com, May 2017


Armstrong loved this dish so much, "Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours" was a sign-off that he regularly used to close out a letter or other correspondence.


Louis Armstrong's RED BEANS AND RICE


1 quart red beans. Enough water to cover.

1/2 pound pickled pork, diced, or commercial jar of pickled ham hocks, diced.

2 cups lean ham, diced, or one ham bone.

1 medium-sized onion, chopped.

1 cup tomato ketchup.

1 tablespoon vinegar.

Salt and pepper to taste.

1 teaspoon Tabasco pepper sauce.

Sprig of thyme or pinch of fresh thyme.


Pick over beans. Wash and soak red beans overnight. When ready to cook, drain off all the water.

In a heavy pot such as a Dutch oven, brown the diced pickled pork and add the chopped onions. Cook for about ten minutes. Add the beans, the tomato ketchup, salt and pepper, vinegar, thyme and Tabasco pepper sauce.

Cover with fresh cold water, making sure that there is enough water as the beans must cook thoroughly. After water has come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until beans are semi-cooked. Mash about a cupful of the beans and return to the pot. Add the diced ham or the ham bone and cook slowly for two or three hours or until the beans are thoroughly cooked and the sauce is rich and creamy. As they say in New Orleans, red beans need no thickening because they got it in themselves.

Serve with fluffy Louisiana boiled rice and garnish with fried ham slices or fried country sausage. Also chopped onions, vinegar and Tabasco pepper sauce on the side and lots of hot French bread.

VARIATION: Place leftover beans in a blender and puree. Add one third milk to the puree and blend well. Heat thoroughly, add a tablespoon of dry sherry and serve as red bean soup garnished with a slice of lemon and a chopped hard-boiled egg.

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