Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Better Than The Big Easy's

The Colonel and I made the most delicious Red Beans and Rice for dinner the other day.

The preparation for this dinner started 24 years and three days before we served it at our table.

Let me explain.

In November of 1986, one month after The Colonel and I were wed, we made the trip to the very first duty station of our 20 years with the U.S. Air Force.

We began our trip in the state of our births, Indiana. We packed all of our meager, newlywed belongings in our new Nissan truck and towed my fully packed, little, black, Ford Escort behind.

Our final destination would be a tiny town in Texas (I know, nothing in Texas is supposed to be tiny).

We made a stop along the way in New Orleans. It was our first time in "The Big Easy". We fell in love with the city and had our first authentic red beans and rice in the heart of the Vieux Carre, or the French Quarter.

We enjoyed the delicious local dish very much. It was spicy with just a bit of heat to it and tasted a little exotic to our Midwestern palates.

Throughout the years we have tried many different recipes and nothing seemed to come close to that dish of red beans and rice we had in New Orleans 24 years ago.

Once in a while we like to watch Food Network's show called Good Eats, with Alton Brown. I think he is funny. We happened to be watching the day he had a recipe for red beans and rice.

Could this finally be the elusive red-beans-and-rice-recipe-holy-grail we had been searching for, for so long? I faithfully jotted down each ingredient and step to the recipe (the link at the beginning of this blog will take you to the recipe, thus saving me loads of typing).

Mr. Brown said what makes this recipe New Orleans authentic is the pickled pork.

It would take three days for the pork to pickle. When we pulled the pork out of the brine we had made three days prior it wasn't a pretty sight. Pickled pork is pale (I was beginning to doubt Alton Brown's culinary wisdom).

The Colonel and I continued to follow the recipe.

Twenty-four years, three days and many different recipes later we had indeed found the Holy Grail. This little bowl of gastronomical heaven was proof (please forgive us our temporary shadow of doubt Mr. Brown).

Our red beans and rice were much better than The Big Easy's.

Ils sont tres bon; ils etaient tres delicieux!

Have no fear New Orleans, we will visit you again one day and eat some of your red beans and rice. Although ours are more delicious, we can't create the ambiance of the French Quarter and we have not mastered your praline and beignet recipes.


  1. We've never been to New Orleans, but I will prepare this dish and dream.

  2. Jill, you are just too much fun! Congrats on discovering your red beans and rice....why are foods eaten on vacay so much more tasty?

  3. I so enjoy your food prep pictures Jill, they seem to come alive with each blog....oh by the way I made pralines for my social studies class at CHS, very tastey indeed!