Red beans and rice is a staple of Creole cuisine, the cooking tradition that arose in Louisiana from the blend of various European immigrant cuisines, native ingredients and cooking techniques, and African influence. Red beans and rice are often served on Monday, making use of Sunday's leftover pork bones to create a slow-cooked dish full of flavor.
The night before making red beans and rice put a pound of either kidney or small red beans in plenty of water to soak. The following day, chop the "holy trinity" of Creole vegetables--onion, bell pepper, and celery in a 1:2:3 ratio, using one onion and adjusting other vegetables accordingly--into very small pieces (you will want them to fall apart during cooking). Saute these vegetables in oil or butter for about ten minutes, adding a couple of cloves of garlic if desired.
Once the vegetables are sauteed, add beans and twice as much water, ham bones, ham, or sausage for pork flavor, as well as two teaspoons of thyme, a bay leaf and a sprinkle of spicy cayenne pepper. Heat water to boiling, then turn down to a simmer and leave to cook, covered, for either 2 hours on the stovetop, or 8-10 hours in a crock-pot (or overnight). During the final half hour of cooking, begin to cook rice in a separate pot. Begin to smash up to a quarter of the beans with a spoon, fork, or blender, to create a creamy sauce. Add salt to taste, and a tablespoon or two of butter. When the beans are ready, remove the bay leaf. Serve the red beans over the rice. For a fancier Creole dinner, serve with a side of sausage or a pork chop. Do not forget to set the table with a big bottle of hot sauce and enjoy!