When You Can’t Get to New Orleans…

by Rona Berg

...At Least You Can Enjoy the Food!

I have been dreaming of travel, and one of the domestic destinations that’s high on my list right now is New Orleans. Aside from its gorgeous gardens, warm and welcoming inhabitants and amazing jazz scene, when I think of NOLA, I think of the food. Chicory coffee, beignets, Po Boys, and the great Creole classic, Red Beans & Rice. 

It just so happens that Camellia, the oldest bean company in the US, is New Orleans-based. The company, founded in 1923, has been owned and operated by the Hayward family--four generations--for close to 100 years. They work directly with farmers and are known for hand-selecting top quality beans and dried peas. Not only are the Hayward’s beans considered the Gold Standard, they have their own moniker in the legume industry: the “Hayward Standard.” 

Here are two recipes for the famous Monday Night Meal in NOLA, Red Beans & Rice, from Vince Hayward, CEO, Camellia--one vegetarian version, and one classic version, with smoked sausage. It is a great one-pot meal for the weekend. And it will transport you to New Orleans, or at least hold you over until you can get yourself there!


Vegetarian Louisiana-Style Red Beans & Rice

Vince Hayward, Fourth-Generation Owner, CEO of Camellia Brand Beans

6 to 8 servings

1 pound Camellia Brand red kidney beans

32-ounce vegetable broth, no-sodium

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 large yellow onion, chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 large green bell pepper, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

3  bay leaves

2 teaspoons thyme

1 teaspoon  oregano

.5 teaspoon red pepper flakes

.5 teaspoon black pepper, ground

.5 tablespoon hot sauce

2 teaspoons liquid smoke seasoning

water & salt to taste 

Rinse and sort beans. (Optional: Soak beans using your preferred method.) In a large pot, place the beans and cover them with vegetable broth and set heat to high. In another medium-sized pot or skillet, sauté the garlic, onion, celery, and bell pepper in olive oil until tender. Then, add the sautéed vegetable mixture and remaining ingredients, except salt, to the beans. When the beans reach a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer ingredients for approximately 2.5 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Add water to beans as needed. When the beans are completely tender, add salt to taste and remove the bay leaves. Salt to taste and serve over cooked rice.

Option for Creamier Texture

Process half the beans in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add processed mixture back to pot. Salt to taste and serve over cooked rice.


Classic Red Beans & Rice

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 pound Camellia Brand red kidney beans

1 pound smoked sausage (andouille works well), sliced

2 cups chopped seasoning blend (onions, celery, green bell peppers, parsley flakes)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

.25 stick butter

8-10 cups water

1 bay leaf

2 smoked ham hocks

To taste Salt

To taste Pepper

To taste cajun seasoning

3 dashes hot sauce

To taste white rice, hot and cooked, for serving

Rinse and sort beans. In a large heavy pot, cook sliced sausage for five minutes. Add chopped seasoning blend and garlic to cooked sausage, along with 1/4 stick butter, and continue to cook until onions turn soft and clear. Add beans, water, bay leaf, and ham hocks. Bring to rolling boil for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Reduce heat, simmer for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until beans are desired tenderness. As beans begin to soften, use a large spoon to mash a portion against the side of the pot to create a thick gravy. Add salt, pepper, hot sauce, and Cajun seasoning to taste, and stir well. Serve over hot cooked rice, as desired.

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