Let’s not mince words here; I loved being on the road for six weeks. It felt good. And anyone who’s been following the adventure on Instagram has probably been able to work out that I loved the food, too. All. Of. The. Food.
But I’m not going to sit on the fence – my favourite food was in New Orleans. Hands down. In the words of the old guy who drove us to our hotel from the airport, “if you don’t like the food here, you just don’t like food!”
The regional cuisine of New Orleans is rich. It’s intense. It’s fun. But more than anything, it’s comfort food. I loved the po-boys, piled up to ridiculous heights. The gumbo was like a bowl of warm hugs. I wolfed down the fried crawfish and the pulled pork. But my favourite dish was red beans and rice.
It’s the traditional Monday night dinner of New Orleans, and it’s easy to see why; thick, creamy and full of flavour, with the added bonuses of being pretty simple to make, and super cheap. Having arrived home yesterday to less than summery weather (good work, Melbourne), we figured a good bowl of red beans and rice on Monday night would be the best way to ease our way back to reality. I used the recipe below, taken from the website of the New Orleans School of Cooking, where we were taught how to cook some other New Orleans classics earlier in the month.
We’re on a bit of a post-holiday budget, so I made my version vegetarian – next time, I intend to make it using some type of smoked sausage that I plan on hunting down at Preston Market. Other than that, I followed the recipe to the letter, and was stoked that I’d bought some of Joe’s Stuff while we were over there – it’s a low salt, MSG free, all-purpose spice blend that’s pretty popular in New Orleans. Gives a nice taste and tiny bit of kick to your food. Good stuff. Alternatively, just look for an all-purpose spice mix at the supermarket, or even concoct your own!
A few notes…
– I soaked my beans for around 8 or 9 hours in total, and found that as they soaked up the water in the bowl, I kept adding more.
– I also kept the water after I drained the beans to use later in the process, in case it started to look a bit dry.
– I simmered my red beans for 3 hours; next time, I’ll probably give them a little longer, because most of the red beans we tried in New Orleans were a bit mushier than mine.
– Oh, and I forgot the parsley (hehe oops), but I added it into the leftovers I plan to eat for lunch tomorrow!
– This recipe makes 6 large serves, but will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days – left overs FTW!