Red beans and rice are a staple food of Louisiana. We usually eat them once a week. When I went to school, we had them on the lunch menu every week. Now, there maybe some other group of people that eat them more than us, but I haven't met them. And besides all that, we make them the best in New Orleans.
Red beans, like all beans, are hard and dry when you first start with them. The first thing you want to do is wash them and pick out the bad beans. Skip this step and you will have Aunt Mary out to get you for leaving a funky bean in your red beans. After you wash them you need to soak them over night. Soaking them will soften them because the water is absorbed into the bean. This will also make them become larger.
There are a few ingredients you will need to make your red beans really stand out. You definitely need some rice and smoked sausage. In addition, you need onions, bell pepper, and spices. The spices will be combined to make a dry mix that you will add to the beans. The spices consist of onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, thyme, cayenne, chili powder, salt and pepper. For all of the spices you use one to two teaspoons per pound of dry beans, except for the salt, pepper, and cayenne. You should use these according to your taste and your specific diet needs.
Once you have the dry spice mix prepared and you have chopped 2 medium onions and 2 green bell peppers, you need to drain the beans and put them on the side. In a 5 quart pot, heat up a table spoon of olive oil, placing the onions and bell peppers in after the oil just starts to smoke. Cook the onions and bell pepper for 6 minutes or until they are brown. After this, lower the heat and add the soaked red beans and stir in the spice mix. Be sure you coat all of the beans with the seasoning mix.
Next, you want to add 3 cups of water to every cup of red beans. For one pound of beans you would add six cups of water. Turn up the heat and bring the beans to a boil. While the beans are heating up, you need to cut up the sausage and pan fry it in olive oil. Then add the sausage to the beans. Once the beans start to boil, cover them, reduce the heat to medium low and cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until the beans are fork tender. Stir the red beans occasionally, being sure to move the beans on the bottom of the pot. Also, check the water level as they are cooking. You want to keep a bit of a soupy quality to the mixture.
Once the beans are fully cooked, take a cup of them out, blend them, and add them back. This is the secret to making your beans creamy. If you want them to be creamier, just blend up some more. An alternative to blending them, and the technique that I use, is to get a big fork or spoon and mash them up against the side of the pot. Just make sure you mix the beans well when you are done.
The only thing left after all of your hard work is to serve them over rice, we use brown rice. Bread goes really well with red beans; so we always have fresh french bread or corn bread with them.