Thanksgiving leftover “red beans” & coconut rice

This is very loosely based on Louisiana red beans and rice, particularly a version I had at Duck’s Eatery with smoked lamb breast and a fantastic coconut rice. We always have lamb and turkey on our Thanksgiving table, so this version morphed into the perfect opportunity to use up any leftovers from our table. It will work with all leftover turkey if that’s the main protein taking up real estate in your fridge, but I did like using about half of another kind of meat to add a bit of flavor and balance. I also think a good amount of smoked sausage would be perfect here to bring this closer to a traditional red beans and rice (or perhaps a drop or two of liquid smoke, if you have it!)




  1. Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside. (Note: Alternatively, if you forget to soak the beans a day ahead, simple bring a pot of water to boil, then pour over the beans and let sit for 1 hour.)
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell pepper, celery, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3-5 minutes. If using smoked sausage or uncooked meat, add the bay leaves, thyme, and meat to the pot, then cook, stirring, until sausage is browned.
  3. Next, add the bay leaves, thyme, roast meat, beans, chicken stock, and spices. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour, or until beans are just beginning to soften.
  4. Add the leftover roast meat to the pot, then simmer for an additional hour. When beans are tender and creamy and meat is falling off the bones or shreds easily, the red beans are done. Remove the bay leaves and any bones from the meat. If needed, chop the meat roughly or shred into small pieces and add it back to the pot. If you want, you can mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot to give the stew a creamy consistency. Adjust salt, pepper, and spice levels to taste.
  5. For the rice: Rinse rice under cold water until the water is no longer cloudy. Add coconut milk, water, and salt and stir to combine. If you’re using a rice steamer, cook according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  6. If you’re using a saucepan, bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook, undisturbed, until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
  7. Fluff with a fork and stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve with red beans over top.


I used short grain rice because that’s what I usually have on hand (and what, if I remember correctly, they used at Ducks). Coconut-cilantro rice generally uses long grain, and you should feel free to use that if that’s what you prefer! If you opt for long grain, increase the coconut milk to 1 cup and the water to 1 1/4 cup.

This might also be a chance to use any vegetables you might have left after Thanksgiving — in one version I added a few bunches of chopped kale in the last 30 minutes or so and found it a welcome addition. This is full of room for variation. But I’ll stop there, before I mangle this Louisiana tradition any further.