The Free Motion Quilting Project: Red Beans and Rice

Friday, October 8, 2010

Red Beans and Rice

Happy Feature Friday!

We're doing something a little bit different today. Instead of featuring one of our free motion quilting products from our online quilt shop, I'm going to share my favorite recipe, one I've been tweaking and perfecting since 2004.

Before we get to the recipe, I do want to briefly talk about one free motion quilting item. In fact, this is a bundle of free motion quilting tools, the three most important items Leah personally uses for her own free motion quilting.
  • The first is my personal favorite, the Supreme Slider. This is a 100%, unadulterated teflon sheet that turns your quilting surface into an ice skating pond. Your fabric easily slides and moves over this sheet.
  • The second is the Little Genie Magic Bobbin Washer. Other than just phonetically sounding cool, this is also a teflon-coated gadget (a thin plastic-looking washer) that goes into your bobbin casing and helps your bobbin thread glide smoothly and evenly while you quilt, completely eliminating backlash and bird's nests on the back of your quilt.
  • Finally, we have the Machingers Quilting Gloves. You'll never again be late for a very important date with these stylish, white, and super grippy gloves designed by the White Rabbit himself. Practically, these gloves have a thin plastic coating over the fingertips which allow you better traction and grip while quilting. They also would be a great addition to almost any Halloween costume.
Remember, all three tools are bundled into Leah's Ultimate Quilting Kit, which you can always purchase for a discount.

And now for the recipe...

I was born and grew up in New Orleans and I love Cajun and creole food. Depending on who you talk to, the following recipe is either Cajun or Creole, and that also depends on what goes into it and how it's made. Regardless, this is a signature New Orleans dish and something I've been perfecting for six years now.

Josh's New Orleans Style Red Beans and Rice

1 bag of dry red kidney beans, soaked in a bowl overnight in your fridge
3/4 cup red onion, minced as finely as possible
1/2 cup celery, finely minced
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely minced
1/4 cup Italian parsley, finely minced
2 smoked hamhocks (or 1 if you're using pickled pork for superior flavor)
1 32-ounce container chicken broth
32 ounces water
4 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 bay leaves
1 heaping Tbs Tony Chachere's Famous Creole Seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne powder (or more if you want the red beans hot)
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp natural liquid smoke
1 Tbs olive oil
Cooked rice

Soak your beans in a large bowl overnight. The beans will triple in size so be sure you fill with enough water to cover all beans.

Finely mince your onion, bell pepper, and celery. A food chopper or food processor makes things a lot easier as you want everything almost pureed.

Add olive oil to a cast iron pot and head on medium low. Add smoked hamhock and let cook for five minutes to release flavor. Now add onion, celery, and bell pepper. Stir until onions turn translucent.

Clear a small area in the pot and add garlic. You may need to add a drop or two more oil. Stir garlic and cook for no more than a minute. DO NOT brown garlic as this turns it bitter and can ruin the dish.

When garlic is cooked -- you'll know because you'll smell it -- stir in with vegetables and hamhock.

Add parsley and bay leaves.

Season with Famous Creole Seasoning, cayenne, and ground black pepper. Forgo salt as the creole seasoning has plenty.

Stir and let the flavors come together for a minute.

Pour in chicken broth. Fill up container with water and also pour in.

Drain and rinse the beans well and then pour in the beans.

Add Liquid Smoke -- you want natural liquid smoke; you'll know because there will be no MSG or funny-sounding chemical in the ingredients -- and stir everything well.

Cook on stovetop for a minimum of five hours. The longer you cook it, the better it will taste.

You'll need to check the pot at least once every hour to top off with water and to stir. As the dish cooks, the beans will become creamy and everything will come together. Expect the beans to be watery for the first 3 or 4 hours.

Near the end of cooking remove the ham hock and bay leaves and mash beans with a potato masher if you want them more creamy. This is how Al Copeland made his red beans; they were almost a puree.

The best way to cook rice is to first rinse the dry rice several times in running water. The ratio of rice to water is 1:1; so if you're making 1/2 cup of rice, add 1/2 cup water, 2 cups of rice, add 2 cups of water, etc.

Here's a little secret... add a spoonful or two of the creamy beans to the rice and stir well before cooking.

Cover pot and cook rice on medium heat until it begins to boil. Turn on the lowest setting and cook for exactly 20 minutes. Then remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes, still covered. Never remove the cover during the cooking process.

Serve beans over rice and garnish with green onions thickly sliced and a scattering of dried parsley. Also provide condiments like Tobasco hot pepper sauce, vinegar, and croutons.


  1. Cool! I'm a New Orleans ex-pat, living in Oregon. I've also had to learn lots of my favorite N.O. recipes. We make red beans and rice often. My all time favorite though is crawfish etouffee, and friend okra! We love Tony's too! Wish I could get my husband to cook!

  2. Happy Birthday Leah, have a nice day.

  3. I live in Lafayette, LA, and this looks yummy! I rarely have time to cook red beans from scratch and we have found a very good substitute is the Blue Runner Creole Style canned beans with Savoie's sausage (I cut up the sausage and brown it before I add the beans) - tastes just like Popeye's. Did you know that red beans is traditionally served on Mondays? Monday was laundry day and you could put it on to cook while you went about doing your wash and didn't have to tend to it much.

  4. Love the recipe, I have never used a recipe, I guess red beans and rice is just born into those of us lucky enough to be born in Louisiana! LOL

    The only thing I would add is to not salt the beans until they are cooked as salt makes them stay hard. They won't be as creamy as you may like.

    Love the DVD, by the way, it is awesome!

    glen in Baton ROuge

  5. Hey, Leah! I hope you are enjoying your vacation. Although, it seems like it must be a "bus driver's" holiday if Josh has you making cooking videos! I just wanted to let you know that the fusible bat arrived today. Thanks so much! I will let you know how it works out!

  6. Happy Birthday!!! The recipe sounds really good--I will have to try it out.

  7. This looks delicious and great instruction, better than the Test Kitchen. Can't wait to give it a try. And I love that black iron pot. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Does the bobbin genie work with machines without a bobbin case? I have a Husqvarna Lily 550 which has a drop in bobbin. It also uses plastic bobbins. Just wondering.

    BTW, I bought some Machinger gloves after reading about them on your blog. Thanks so much I love them! I also have the older Slider. It is not the Supreme version, but works quite well.

  9. @ Lynn Weathers: I have a Brother machine that also has a drop in bobbin case and plastic bobbins. It seems crazy that a little plastic doo hickey can make a difference, but it really really does! I have zero bobbin problems anymore. I bought the whole little kit that Leah sells of magic quilting gizmos, and I use every single one of them every time I sit down at my machine. They are that good!
    (This has been a public service announcement for Leah Day Quilting. HA HA!)

  10. leah, first off, happy belated birthday! secondly, i gots a question, i've been practicing free motion quilting on small scraps of batting and fabric and the top always looks wonderful but the back stitches look loose and sometimes even bird nest, what am i doing wrong?

  11. I can't wait to try this recipe. I'd like to let it cook in the oven instead of stovetop. Any sugestions for oven temp? I guess I'd start at 350, checking and adding water as needed 'til they're done? That way I don't have to be home while it cooks in oven. I may try it with black beans, too.

  12. Thanks for all the great comments!

    Jenny, a hamhock is essentially a smoked pig knuckle. Sounds awful but it's the key ingredient. You could substitute smoked ham, or simply use pickled pork, but you'd really miss out on the signature flavor.

    Judy, I'd suggest using a crockpot. I've done that before several times. Just get everything together in a stovetop pot (you need the direct heat for sauteing) and then pour into your crockpot. Cook on low all day and remember to leave it uncovered and pour in water when needed.

    I've never tried it in the oven but I don't see why it wouldn't work. It would be faster for sure.

    I've made it with black beans--very different flavor!


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