BRIAN LANDRY: How Do You Red Bean?
Brian Landry is a New Orleans native. Growing up in southern Louisiana, he was not only surrounded by great cooks at large family gatherings, but also by the waterways that offered some of the best seafood in the world. He was fortunate enough to have family, who were avid outdoorsmen, to take him on regular family fishing trips.
This exposure to the outdoors, and cooking, instilled an early love for both. However, once he graduated from high school, Landry decided to attend the University of Alabama and received dual degrees in biology and philosophy.
But once he returned to New Orleans, that love of seafood and cooking boiled back up and he decided to follow his heart and attend culinary school. He enrolled in renowned Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island – a school that Emeril Lagasse attended – and began his formal education for a career in the kitchen.
After graduating from J&W, Landry began working at the award-winning Charleston Grill restaurant in Charleston, South Carolina. With this experience, he was able to get back home to New Orleans and to the famed Galatoire’s where he eventually became the executive chef.
With all of his experience, not only from the restaurant industry but also from growing up around the Gulf coast, Landry joined the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and did everything he could to help in the efforts to restore confidence in the Gulf seafood after the BP oil spill – and who better of a person to do this than someone with a love of the area and a degree in bio?
This lead to a famed local chef, John Besh, coming to him to see if he wanted to open a seafood-centric restaurant. Landy jumped on the idea and they opened Borgne together. The two eventually split ways in 2018 and Landry, along with business partner Emery Whalen, started QED Hospitality – a restaurant operations management group – and runs the Jack Rose restaurant, the Bayou Bar, Hot Tin rooftop bar, and the Silver Whistle Cafe within the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans. They also operate the March House restaurant, LA Jackson rooftop bar, and restaurant, and the Killebrew at the Thompson Hotel Nashville, Tennessee.
Brian Landry continues to be dedicated and passionate about preserving the Gulf seafood and is still on the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board. The Jack Rose restaurant, the Bayou Bar, Hot Tin rooftop bar, and the Silver Whistle Cafe within the Pontchartrain Hotel at 2031 St Charles Ave in New Orleans. The March House restaurant, LA Jackson rooftop bar, and restaurant, and the Killebrew are located within the Thompson Hotel at 401 11th Ave S, in Nashville, Tennessee.
Who makes the best red beans and rice?
I don’t think that I could identify one version of red beans and rice as the best. I like so many versions of them. I will say that I tend to prefer the home-cooked versions of red beans and rice more than I like restaurant versions. Home-cooked versions always taste like they were cooked with more love!
When did you learn to make red beans and rice?
The first time I really started cooking red beans and rice were in college. I lived with a few friends from Jesuit High School while we attended school in Alabama, and we would make red beans and rice when we were really missing the food from home.
What do red beans and rice mean to you?
My Nana, my mom’s mom, raised 10 kids and always had huge pots of something on the stove. Growing up we went to her house on most Mondays and had red beans and rice and white bread with butter. My mom still makes a version that is very similar – she always adds smoked sausage and ham. I really love how the chunks of ham breakdown after hours of simmering into salty bites of tender pork.
Do you only eat red beans and rice on a Monday?
Mondays are the day we always cook red beans, but I am a big fan of eating the leftovers anytime during the week. I also like repurposing the red beans into burritos and quesadillas later in the week as well.
What’s your process for cooking a pot of red beans?
Soak the beans overnight and strain and discard the water. Saute the trinity and chopped garlic in rendered bacon fat in a heavy bottom soup pot or dutch oven (like a Le Crueset pot). Once the onions are translucent, add the red beans, smoked ham hocks, and smoked sausage.
I like to cook the beans in a mixture of chicken stock and water – about half and half. I add bay leaf, dry oregano, and a touch of cayenne pepper then bring to a simmer. I cook them covered for about 2 hours, giving them an occasional stir to make sure they don’t stick or scorch to the bottom of the pot.
Once the beans just start to break down and get creamy when stirred I turn off the heat and season them with salt, Worcestershire, a touch of cane syrup, and Tabasco. (I also remove the ham hocks, cut the meat off of the bone, and add the hock meat back to the red beans.)
What do you serve with your red beans and rice?
My favorite accompaniment to red beans and rice is paneed pork chops with my dad’s pepper jelly.
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