From Gentilly to Mid-City, Katie’s Red Beans and Rice Recipe Brings Neighborhoods Together
Mondays at Katie’s are pretty much like any other day of the week: the tables and bar are filled with moms, dads, uncles, aunts, maw maws and paw paws. You’ll likely find lifelong friends comparing notes about Saints’ games, soccer teammates from a nearby school, and co-workers – all gathered in what feels like a New Orleans culinary clubhouse.
But there’s one notable difference on Mondays: red beans and rice is on the menu.
And keeping an eye on it all is owner Scot Craig.
A Culinary Awakening in Gentilly
Craig discovered cooking as a boy growing up in Gentilly, finding his culinary awakening in the kitchens of his Creole neighbors.
He explains his interest this way: “We’d be out playing, I’d stop in the kitchens [of friends and neighbors] and ask, ‘What are you cooking there?’”
“I’d talk to them about it. I learned a lot from the Creole ladies while growing up in that neighborhood,” he says, crediting them with his red beans and rice recipe.
“I learned how to make it right,” he notes, admitting that in the process, he also found out how to make it wrong.
“It’s about getting that creamy texture that’s so important,” Craig says. And for that, he credits soaking Camellia Red Kidney Beans.
“I’ve tried to use other [company’s] red beans, and they just don’t cook the same,” he says. “Other beans are harder, and they don’t absorb water the same.”
Plus, Craig adds, “I never saw anything but Camellia beans in a Creole lady’s house.”
Meats Bring the Flavor
Craig shares that he makes his red beans and rice like he makes his greens —with a lot of meat.
“I like to use smoked sausage and pickled meats, sometimes I’ll add turkey necks or other meats, anything that will bring it flavor,” he says. “But most importantly, smoked ham hocks and chunks of ham.”
The red beans begin soaking on Saturday, with the cooking process starting on Sunday.
Craig — or Chef Joey Trippi — starts with the traditional trinity of chopped celery, bell pepper and onion and cooks it down in butter, then adds it to the soaked red beans. Next are the bay leaf, butter, water, and the meats.
“We let it cook down,” he says, with the red beans ready on Monday for the first lunch order.
In addition to rice, patrons can have red beans with a smoked and grilled sausage link or hot sausage patty, fried chicken (available for dinner only), fried or grilled pork chops, or Andouille sausage.
A Special Creation
There is one red beans and rice creation that Craig says came together after a number of cocktails: the red beans and rice po-boy.
“It’s freaking incredible,” he says about this once-in-a-blue-moon special.
“You put a layer of mayonnaise and ketchup on the bottom with a layer of cooked red beans,” he says. “Then you add a real crispy hot sausage. I like hot sausage. And then you finish it on top with a little bit of red beans with some rice. It’s killer.”