Unorthodox Red Beans & Rice


Recipes are made to be broken.

At least that’s what I kept telling myself when I decided to go against the grain while making this New Orleans classic.  I’m bracing myself for backlash.

Red Beans and Rice is traditionally made with the following: red beans, trinity (onion, celery, green bell pepper), bay leaf, cajun spices & andouille sausage.  Sometimes ham hock, too.

Problem is I don’t mess with andouille sausage. I think it reminds me too much of kielbasa.  And I’ve had enough kielbasa growing up to last me 3 lifetimes.  With that said, I needed a meaty-smokey replacement.  Smoked turkey wings were my answer.

So much flavor.

I promise you won’t even know the andouille sausage is missing.  And, heck, you may never make Red Beans & Rice with andouille sausage again.  Don’t tell New Orleans.



Unorthodox Red Beans & Rice
Serves 4)


  • 8 oz dried red beans
  • 2 smoked turkey wings or 1 smoked turkey leg
  • 1/2 cup bacon, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups celery, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh habanero pepper (I used 2 because I’m wild)
  • 4 tbsp cajun seasoning (I like Paul Pruhomme’s Blackened Redfish Magic)
  • couple shakes of hot sauce (Crystal, preferred)



  1. Soak beans in a large bowl or pot with 8 cups of water, at least 8 hours or overnight. Strain.
  2. In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until cooked through. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté until soft and slightly golden. Wearing latex gloves, make a few slits in the habanero with a paring knife. Add to the pot.
  4. Add the smoked turkey wings and cover the pot for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken stock, cooked bacon, red beans, bay leaf and hot sauce. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for two hours over low heat.
  6. Check the beans. They should be very soft. If they are still slightly firm, cover and cook up to an hour more.
  7. Once the beans are soft, add the cajun seasoning and simmer an additional 30 minutes.
  8. At this point, the smoked turkey meat should be falling off the bone. Remove the turkey wings from the pot and set aside to cool.
  9. Remove one cup of the red bean mixture from the pot and place in a a bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, begin to mash the beans into a puree. Return to the pot and mix. If the mixture is still soupy, increase the heat while stirring constantly, and begin to reduce until it is a stew-like consistency,
  10. Separate the turkey meat from skin and bones. Shred the meat and add back to the pot.
  11. Check for seasoning, adding additional hot sauce or cajun seasoning, as needed.
  12. Serve over white rice.



*The addition of bacon in this recipe is for additional smokey flavor. Bacon can be left out if you would like this dish to be pork-free. It will still have the smokey taste you find in red beans & rice.



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