It took me a while to find the recipe forum. I figured it would be full of beans and rice dishes but I was surprised. In the 70s and early 80s I spent a decade in New Orleans playing music and eating the best food on earth. I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Paul Prudhomme when he was chef at the Commander's Palace. My cat actually introduced us, but that's another topic. New Orleans is all about good food, and Monday in the Big Easy is traditional Red Beans and Rice day. It's a simple dish, but can be a gourmet meal if its done right. Some Sausage Background: Andouille (ahn-doo-ee) is a spiced and heavily smoked sausage made from pork, pepper, onions, wine, seasonings and potatoes. French in origin, it was introduced to the United States through Louisiana by French immigrants (Arcadian). It is a link-pin of Cajun cooking (not to be confused with Creole). Andouille sausages are sometimes referred to as "hot link" sausages. Cajun–Style Andouille is the spiciest of all the hot-link variants, made of the butt or shank meat and fat, seasoned with salt, cracked black pepper, garlic, and smoked over pecan wood and sugar cane for up to seven or eight hours and is then cured in a smokehouse. Andouille sausage is used in a wide range of Louisiana dishes, such as gumbos, jambalaya, étouffée but most especially, it is a staple in Red Beans and Rice. LaPlace, (in Louisiana's Andouille Parish) is the Andouille Capital of the World. They hold the Andouille festival every third weekend of October, which I first attended in 1976. Life, nor my taste buds have been the same since that first mystical visit. Good Andouille is addictive. It comes in a variety of heat ratings from mild to hot to "Oh my Goodness Gracious!". Unless you are used to extremely spicy foods, it's best to start out with the milder octanes. S'all good. Since authentic Andouille is made only in Andouille Parish, it's difficult to come by and the farther away you are, the more expensive it is. It's most definitely a special order item and a challenge for most distributors to procure since it's perishable. An acceptable substitute is Chef Bruce Aidells Cajun–Style Andouille (San Leandro, CA) which is widely distributed in the US. I've found it in major markets and delis. Their website www.aidells.com has a store locater which includes most Food Lions, Giant Eagle's, Costco, Genuardi's, Superfresh, A&P, King's, Cub Foods, Harris Teeter, Publix and Pathmark Supermarkets. Understandably, Aidells is not available in Louisiana. It's good and tasty, but it's not real Cajun Andouille. For authentic Andouille, go to http://www.chefpaul.com/site.php?pageID=334&iteminfo=1&productID=106 You can't order it on the net and will have to call 1-800-457-2857 to get a price quote and place an order. Chef Paul has both regular and "Hot" varieties in 5 pound packages that ship 2-day UPS, packed in dry-ice and it is the real deal. It's not cheep, but, it is worth it buckaroos, I tell you true. Remember that some coon-ass spent up to twelve hours making it and then it hangs in the smokehouse for days while it cures. It's a very labor intensive process and I've watched as it's made and can assure you, it's nothing like the general perception of sausage making. It's heap-big hoo-doo magic. True Andouille is very rich in flavor, almost creamy in texture and always tastes mild and sweet at first, but, the heat "creeps" as you chew and the flavor stays with you long after the meal ends (IMHO, an Andouille belch is one of life's true pleasures). It's yummy raw with crackers or cheese (since it's been smoked, it's fully cooked) but, for Red Beans and Rice you want to slice it and then sear and blacken the "buttons" Cajun-style in a hot skillet. This locks in the flavor and the blackened char is delicious due to a chemical reaction in the fat. When it's black on both sides, it's done and ready for the recipe. Sometimes you have to substitute hot Italian sausage if you are poor like me. Prepare it the same way (blackened) but, use some hot sauce and/or liquid smoke in the pan to facilitate the blackening. Chef Paul's Magic hot sauce is the best in the world imho, but I generally settle for Louisiana Brand Hot Sauce (Bruce Foods www.brucefoods.com New Iberia, LA), especially their aged Gold Pepper Sauce. Original Louisiana Hot Sauce is not you grandma's Tabasco or Texas Pete (but those will do in a pinch). Louisiana hot sauce has a distinct spirit vinegar flavor that is key to New Orleans-style cuisine. It is also a required table condiment with your RB&R. You can eat rice & beans without the meat of course and I have many times, but Andouille makes it a gourmet meal and everyone should sample it. Zatarain's of New Orleans www.zatarain.com offer a wide variety New Orleans style Red Beans and Rice meal's ranging from frozen to vacuum packaged microwavable bags (great for preppers as you can warm it in a pot of water) to the dry boxed mix. It's good stuff for quick, but I'm about to reveal the for-special home-made Cajun ambrosia of red beans and rice. Drumbo's Monday Red Beans: (with a tip'O-the 'ole cowboy hat to Chef Paul Prudhomme, K-Paul's Kitchen and Alexander Lee Gato [RIP] the "mouser" that introduced us all those years ago.) These ingredients make about 7 cups, enough for 4 generous servings, but I generally double or triple it (except for the ham hocks) as it keeps well in the fridge and is freezable. In fact, it's better after a day or so, so most New Orleans cook's soak the beans Saturday night and cook on Sunday so it can "mellow" with the rice overnight for the Monday feast. 1 (or 2) pounds of dry red kidney beans 1.5 pound dirty rice (long grain) 2 or 3 pounds of small ham hocks on the bone (raw, not smoked) 2 (or 3) pounds of blackened Andouille sausage buttons 3 teaspoons bacon drippings 1/2 teaspoon Wheat germ oil (*contains Tocopherols, rich in Vitamin E and is a secret ingredient of many New Orleans chefs who say the chemical "binds the flavors") 1-1/4 cups finely chopped celery 1 cup finely chopped onions 1 cup finely chopped green bell peppers (and/or chopped fresh red chillies ) 3 bay leaves 1-1/2 teaspoons Pepper Sauce 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons of Cajun seasoning blend (Chef Paul Prudhomme's Meat Magic, McCormick Cajun Seasoning or equivalent) salt, pepper & cayenne or red pepper to taste Add enough water to the beans to cover them by 3 or 4 inches and soak overnight in the refrigerator. *note: Soaking for 2 hours, or until beans begin to plump and wrinkle is sufficient, but soaking overnight will release much of the gas. In a large pot or dutch oven, place chopped garlic, celery, bay leaves, bacon drippings, ham hocks and about 8 cups of water. Stir well, cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the cover, reduce the heat, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Raise the heat and boil, stirring occasionally, until the meat falls off the bones, about 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, drain the beans and add them and 2 cups of water to the pot, along with the Pepper Sauce and Seasoning Blend. (Lamb or veal pieces can be added to the beans as they cook.) Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the pot fairly often, until the beans are tender and start breaking up, (about 1 hour). Discard the bay leaves, ham bones and break up any large pieces of meat. Add chopped onion, chopped bell pepper and sausage. Add salt and black and/or red peppers to your liking (because of the bacon drippings and ham hocks, only a pinch of salt is needed, the amount of peppers depends on your tolerance of spicy food. I like's it hot, yeah boy do I). Turn up heat once again and bring to a rolling boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer for another hour. Add the cooked long-grain dirty rice and let sit for about 15 to 20 minutes (or overnight in refrigerator). Serve with Pepper Sauce on the side for those who like a little more heat and enjoy! (Drink milk in an emergency to cut the heat). And don't forget the cornbread! I make dry-sweet "johnny cakes" but, you can make a nice moist version adding a can of creamed corn & I like to add chopped jalapeños. AH C'EST BON! (Oh That's Good). I'd enjoy reading anyone else's variations on Red Beans and Rice as I love to tinker with alternatives.