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John Besh's Red Beans and Rice

“Being a chef here in New Orleans is more an act of stewardship than a job," Besh writes.

My New Orleans:  The Cookbook by John Besh is a masterpiece!  It is a cookbook of anecdotes and humorous stories while being filled with amazing recipes and exquisite photographs.  It is no small cookbook either, it weighs over 5 pounds!

John Besh is the owner and executive chef of Restaurant August in New Orleans as well as owning 5 other restaurants in New Orleans.  He was raised in rural southern Louisiana and spent his childhood hunting and fishing.  Besh has 4 sons and loves to take a break from the restaurants to continue the family tradition of fishing.  He said he wants his sons to understand the origin of local foods and the knowledge of food at its source. 

I’m sure he does a great job of fishing and hunting and as a chef but he has outdone himself with this cookbook.  He shares his love for New Orleans, the food, the people, the customs and the great history of the area.  It contains over 200 recipes and stories about his hometown with a wide range of recipes such as:  Strawberry Ravioli with Meyer Lemons and Pistachios, Belle River Crawfish Pie, Green Onion Sausage and Shrimp Gravy, Green Tomato and Pepper Jam, Roasted Red Gypsy Peppers, Arugula and Country Ham; plus, Hot Blueberry Pie, Crispy Fried Oyster Salad with Louisiana Caviar, Cane Syrup-Creamed Sweet Potatoes and Beignets.  

My New Orleans Cookbook

The cookbook is beautifully laid-out with unique chapters as well, including Feast Days, The Urban Farm, Mardi Gras, Crawfish and Rice, Thanksgiving, Oyster Season, Reveillon, Gumbo Weather and Chanterelles and Blackberries; just to name a few. 

With his narrative bringing the cookbook together, he has raised it to a phenomenal level.  It is a worthy testimonial to the region, the fishermen, the hunters, the farmers, the cooks and all lovers of food.  This is absolutely an outstanding cookbook to peruse!

Here’s what John says about red beans and rice:

“Time is the key to making successful red beans:  they need to cook slowly and well.  Using flavorful fat is another secret.  Just as my grandmother did, I keep the fat from every batch of bacon I make, and I save the fat that solidifies on the surface of chilled chicken soup and roast chicken drippings, too.  Just a little bit adds big flavor.”

Now for the recipe:

John Besh's Red Beans and Rice

2 onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1 pound dried red kidney beans
2 smoked ham hocks
3 bay leaves
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper 
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 cups white rice

Sweat the onions, bell peppers and celery in the bacon fat in a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat.

Once the onions become translucent, add kidney beans, ham hocks, bay leaves and cayenne.  Add water to cover by 2 inches.

Increase the heat and bring the water to a boil.  Cover pot, reduce heat to low and allow the beans to simmer for 2 hours.  Periodically stir the beans to make sure that they don’t scorch on the bottom of the pot, adding water if necessary, always keeping the beans covered by an inch or more of water.

Continue cooking the beans until they are creamy and beginning to fall apart when they are stirred.

Remove the ham hock meat from the bones, roughly chop it and add it back to the pot of beans.

Season with salt, black pepper and Tabasco.
Serve with white rice.

This is my kind of red beans and rice!


By the way, did any of you happen to watch his “Iron Chef” performance?


  1. Went to New Orleans once and fell in love with that place and their food; saving this recipe.

  2. That is a huge book! :)
    Great dish!

  3. I like John Besh. He seems very confident and smart but very likable person. I have never been to New Orleans and it is one of the place I would love to visit sometimes soon. I love looking at cookbooks. I have to check his book out! Thanks!

  4. This recipe is right up my street and I will be sure to make this in the not too distant future. Diane

  5. That's a nice looking pot of beans and rice! The cookbook sounds like I really need to check it out. I love cookbooks and good recs for one too. Thank!

  6. Thanks for posting the cookbook review. I am always looking for new cookbooks. My husband thinks it is crazy since I write cookbooks and have a ton of other cookbooks already. But I love to read them like novels.

  7. I have never made any of John Besh's recipe, but I need to change that!!

  8. I love red beans and rice. Love John too. I watchedhim on IC, so sad. Though I like Garces just as much. Thanks for the review and the recipe. Your photo is proof enough for me that I'll have to try these.

  9. I love red beans and rice. Love John too. I watchedhim on IC, so sad. Though I like Garces just as much. Thanks for the review and the recipe. Your photo is proof enough for me that I'll have to try these.

  10. Sage, lucky you! I'm hoping to visit it one of these days. Bet it is the best!

    3 hungry tummies, it is huge! The photos are fabulous of the food, people and surroundings. Lots of great black and white vintage photos too.

    Mausi, yes! He does seem very likable and dedicated to his job and family.

    Food, Fun and Life in the Charente, wonderful! I hope you do and have a good day!

    Lyndsey, it is. The book is filled with great photos such as this with a variety of subjects. You would like this one, I hope!

    Angie's Recipes, me too! Thanks for stopping by!

    Linda, me too! I love reading cookbooks and my hubby just shakes his head. Yours is a great one also that I love reading!

    Deborah, I hope you try this! He has so many good recipes!

    Carla and Michael, yes! It was a sad thing; I thought he did great. Thanks ~ I'm glad you enjoyed the review!

  11. NO is my hometown=great cookbook!...Happy day Pam.

  12. What a huge book! Sounds like it's full of great recipes though so it's worth it.

  13. Jacqueline, I remember that and again, lucky you! You have a wonderful day, Jacqueline!

    Esi, it builds up those arm muscles lifting it. It's an incredibly beautiful cookbook! Thanks!

  14. I love this book - one of my favorites - although I have yet to cook out of it. But I really enjoy reading it - loved him on Iron Chef! I heard he is going to be on a TLC show sometime in the future. The beans and rice look fantastic!

  15. YUM! I love red beans and rice. Can't wait to try this!

  16. Looks wonderful! I will have to make this and remember when I used to live in NOLA!

  17. Hi Pam,
    Fantastic recipes you published during my absence. I loved all of them!!

  18. Ooo... the recipe sounds great! No harm to give it a try, right? Thanks again, Pam. Hope you're having a great day.
    Cheers, Kristy

  19. I've coveted this cookbook since it came out. What a tome! This recipe has made me want it even more.

  20. Cinnamon-Girl, great! I will be on the lookout for his show on TLC! Glad to hear you like the cookbook too, it's pretty incredible!

    Mags, hope you like it! Thanks!

    Jessica, lucky you for living in NOLA! Hope you give this a try!

    Salsa Verde, it's nice to see you back! Thanks so much and have a good day!

    My Little Space, no harm, Kristy! Just a delicious dish! Back at you with the good day!

    Joanne, thank you! You know what I'm talking about; it's a spectacular cookbook!

  21. UGH! I have this EXACT book right now and LOVE it. The only problem is that I have to give it away on my blog (will be doing a post this weekend). It is a sponsored give away but this is one I want myself!

    Do you mind if I use a few of your quotes (credited of course) in my giveaway post?

  22. These look so good.

    I should tell you, I am having a giveaway, if you are interested.

  23. Chris, it is a great cookbook and I can understand your wanting to get it for yourself. It's an incredible book and makes for a great giveaway! That would be fine with the quotes! Thanks for stopping by!

    Sweet and Savory, they are good. I will be looking at your blog!

  24. Red beans and rice is such humble comfort food.
    Thanks for the great cookbook review. I'll add this title to my wish list!

  25. Mimi, it is a great comfort food. The cookbook is amazing with his stories and lots of history.


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