Sunday Suppers: Kelly Smith’s Red Beans & Rice

Sep 24, 2023

sunday suppers series cozy meal ideas

In this week’s Sunday Suppers series we hear from Kelly Smith—Senior Buyer, Sur La Table—about a recipe that not only sparks feeling of comfort, but is significant to her family’s heritage.


My husband and I threw our first dinner party together over 30 years ago, and served Red Beans & Rice. Thirty years later, it’s still one of the most requested dinners in our repertoire.

My husband’s family hails from New Orleans and we have a long list of family recipes from there—gumbo, jambalaya and fried chicken, just to name a few. In his family, nothing is written down. He learned at his mother’s side and figured it out.

My mother-in-law has been gone for more than 15 years, but her legacy lives on in the food we cook. From that first dinner party came the tradition of Sunday dinners at our house.

Every Sunday, we gather at our home and cook for 15-20 of our friends who have become family.  No, it’s not a potluck. No, you can’t bring anything (except maybe some good wine). This is what we do for the people we love: we cook for them. We create community. 

Covid changed this, of course, and now we gather once a month instead of weekly. But the tradition and love still live on in the meals we cook, the stories we share and the love we have for our chosen family. 

I hope you love this recipe as much as we do and make sure you cook it for big group of your loved ones.

Kelly Smith, Sur La Table Senior Buyer


  • 1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
  • 3 tablespoons bacon grease
  • 1/4 cup chopped tasso, or chopped ham
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 cup chopped green bell peppers
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
  • 1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound smoked ham hocks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 10 cups chicken stock, or water
  • 4 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish


  • Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large pot, heat the bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add the tasso and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the onions, celery and bell peppers to the grease in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham hocks, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)
  • Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves.
  • Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.
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Loved reading your story, Kelly!

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