Saturday, May 03, 2014

Buster and John's Red Beans and Rice


David Rosengarden once observed that when ask an aficionado of red beans and rice for their true favorite version of this widely loved New Orleans staple, they will likely go into a stage whisper and tell you, after securing a promise of secrecy, that Popeye’s makes the best red beans and rice on the planet. With that in mind, I have been trying recipe after recipe trying to find the holy grail of red beans and rice. I think I have found it. If there are recipes better than this one: Bring ‘Em On!

This recipe is adapted from Jane and Michael Stern’s book, Road Food. The inspiration for their recipe came from Buster Holmes restaurant in New Orleans and John Thorne’s pamphlet, Rice and Beans: The Itinerary of a Recipe. I have made a few minor changes to suit my tastes.


  • 1-14 oz package of dried red beans, washed and picked through
  • 3 cups of Sauterne wine. If you have trouble finding Sauterne, try a sweet wine such as Madeira. I also have used apple juice successfully.
  • 1 smoked ham hock
  • 1 pound smoked sausage, cut into disks
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped fine
  • 1 cup minced scallion, reserve green tops
  • 1/8 teaspoon, Crystal hot sauce (I never use Tabasco)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cups, rice
  • 4 ½ cups, water
  • 2 cloves, garlic, crushed
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Creole seasoning to taste


  • Soak beans overnight in wine and enough water to cover.
  • Pour off liquid and put beans in a 6-quart stockpot with 2 quarts of water.
  • Add ham hock, sausage, garlic, onions, scallion, and seasonings, stir gently, and bring to simmer gradually.
  • Partially cover and simmer gently for three hours, adding a half-and-half mixture of water and wine as needed to keep the beans soupy.
  • After 2 ½ hours, mash some of the softened beans to thicken gravy. I use an immersion blender, but a potato masher will work.
  • Serve over cooked rice. 

1 comment:

Paul from Walhala said...

Sauterne? Hooda thunkit? I made this recipe as written and it was the best I've ever had. Made it again for a friend who grew up in NO and he agreed. I'm throwing my other recipes away.