Red Beans and Rice

Kent Rollins Red Beans and Rice
It’s finally fall outside here in Oklahoma and I am ready for some comfort food. I may be in Oklahoma today, but my taste buds are going to take a trip to Louisiana. I’ve got a good pound of dry kidney beans sorted and soaking and I’m ready to get a move on. Laissez les bon temps roulet, as my good friend Justin Wilson might say. Lets let the good times roll and get these beans a-going.

Red Beans

Red beans are a common term for kidney beans. These are some of my favorite types of beans because they have such a beautiful color and a great texture.

TIP: If you’re cooking beans on a hot fire (and not at a high elevation), you do not need to soak for a long time. Just an hour or two will do you fine.

When you are done soaking your kidney beans, go ahead and drain them good. Put them in a stock pot with just enough water boiling to cover the beans.

Tip: If you soak your beans, make sure you use cold water to prevent the beans from turning sour.

As you cook these beans, they will soak up a good amount of water. You can add water here and there through the cooking process, but make sure that the water is very hot so that the cooking temperature isn’t suddenly changed.

Tip: Keep a pot of hot water on the stove to add to the beans from time to time as needed.

Mama Always Used a Ham Hock

To make traditional red beans and rice, you are going to add a smoked ham hock to the pot of boiling beans to add flavor. Modern recipes call for more meat, now that meat is more abundant and available than it was in the past. Today I’m using a big ham steak to get a chunk in every ite.

TIP: For different flavor, substitute the ham with your favorite andouille or smoked sausage.

I’ve got Bertha going hot. For the ham steaks, instead of just adding the meat to the boiling beans, I want to kick the flavor up by grilling it first. I’ve got a mix of Fogo Hardwood Lump charcoal with some Applewood and Mesquite to add the smoky flavor to the ham and to the beans. When the ham is hot and full of flavor and grill marks, dice it into bite sized pieces and add it to the beans.

The Cajun Trinity

Those of you from the Southern United States have likely heard of the cajun trinity – it’s a simple mix of three vegetables that are the base of so many amazing recipes. With a mix of celery, onion, and bell peppers you have the base to start red beans and rice, jambalaya, my cowboy gumbo, and many, many more delicious dishes.

While the ham steaks were heating up, I diced up the trinity veggies. We want to bring out all of the delicious flavor of these vegetables so sauté them until translucent in about two tablespoons of Kerrygold butter. After about five minutes or so, add six minced garlic cloves and cook until fragrant.

Tip: Do not over-stir the beans. Using a wooden spoon, occasionally scrape the bottom to prevent burning. Stirring too frequently will give you a pot of mashed beans.

Once the trinity is ready, add all of it to the pot of beans. Scrape every bit of that goodness off of the skillet.

Red Beans and Spice

Now that the beans have softened a good bit, they’re ready for seasoning. For red beans & rice, my seasoning blends work really well with this. If you don’t have my mesquite or my original seasonings, you can use some cajun spices or seasoning salt. Give mine a try, though, I guarantee they’ll kick your cooking up a notch!

Next, add a couple of dried bay leaves – remember to remove them at the end. Growing up, my mama left them in the pot and whoever ended up finding the bay leaf in their bowl had to do the dishes. If you do this, make sure everyone knows not to actually eat the bay leaf! After this, add some dried thyme and parsley. You can use fresh if you happen to have some. Add a good amount of ground pepper and salt to taste. Simmer until ready to eat! Pull yourself up a comfortable chair. For about 45 minutes to an hour a half, occasionally stir. When the beans are tender, it’s time to chow down.

Quick Rice Tips

Rinse rice in a fine mesh strainer to remove extra starch. This will result in firmer rice.

Instead of water, cook rice in beef or chicken broth. This will always add better flavor.

Add color to rice with a pinch of Turmeric or a packet of Sazon seasoning

Laissez les Bon Temps Roulet

Serve the beans over rice and enjoy!

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Red Beans and Rice – Cowboy Kent Rollins

Prep Time 20 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 to 8 servings


  • 1 ½ lbs smoked ham steak
  • 1 lb. red kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large white onion minced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 teaspoons coarse ground black pepper
  • Kent’s Original or Mesquite Seasonings or salt and pepper
  • 3 cups white rice


  • Preheat the grill to about 350 degrees F. and place the ham steak over the direct heat side. Grill for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, until grill marks appear. Set aside to cool, and cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • In a stockpot, add the beans and cover with about 2 inches of water. Bring the beans to a boil, stirring occasionally. Note: for a faster cook time you can soak the beans for 45 minutes up to overnight for higher elevations.
  • In a medium cast iron skillet, over medium heat, add the butter and melt. Stir in the onion, celery, bell pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the onions begin to get tender. Stir in the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes or until the onions and peppers are tender.
  • Stir the onion mixture into the beans. Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, parsley and black pepper. Season with Kent’s Original, Mesquite Seasonings or salt and pepper, to taste.
  • Stir in the pieces of ham. Reduce the heat to a low boil, cover and cook for about 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until the beans are tender. Cooking times will vary depending on your elevation and if the beans were soaked.
  • Be sure to keep beans covered with water as they cook. Add hot water as needed.
  • Cook the rice as directed on the package. For a better flavor, we substitute the water and boil in chicken broth.
  • Remove the bay leaves from the beans and serve over warm rice.


Kent’s seasonings available at