One of Louisiana's best-known contributions to American regional cuisine, this dish combines red kidney beans, water, ham (or bacon or salt pork), onions and seasonings (usually including cayenne). This mélange is slowly simmered until tender and flavorful. The beans, which create a thick natural gravy, are served with bits of ham over white rice. This dish was purportedly so loved by famous trumpeteer Louis Armstrong that he used to sign his personal letters "Red beans and ricely yours."
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.