Smoke and Thyme in New Orleans: Red Beans Parade

The Krewe of Red Beans was started by Devin De Wulf, a red beans aficionado and transplant to New Orleans from Charleston by way of Brazil. One Mardi Gras he dedicated an old jacket, two weeks of his life and a whole lot of hot glue to celebrating his love of red beans in costume form. It was such a hit he decided that next year, he’d have his own red beans themed parade.

Enticing his friends with a big pot of red beans and rice every monday evening, he put together a krewe of about 20 people who would march in their custom-made bean costumes on Lundi Gras – the Monday before Fat Tuesday.

Ten years later and the Krewe of Red Beans has gotten big enough to warrant its own spin-off parade – the macabre-themed Dead Beans Parade, formed from the contingent of the Krewe of Red Beans whose costumes featured zombies, tarot cards, dead historical figures and other such memento mori.

I heard Devin explaining the parade’s origin story on the Louisiana Eats podcast and realised that Dead Beans would begin their march about two blocks from my house. I followed them through the Treme to their meetup with the Red Beans, taking as many photos as I can.

Check out the costumes below (I love all of the Tarot themed ones) or scroll to the bottom to get a red beans recipe you can make at home.


Red beans and rice

Smoked sausage is one of the traditional pork ingredients for this dish – its readily available in supermarkets in New Orleans but is somewhat less common in the UK. I suggest mixing smoky bacon with barbecued sausages, maybe some leftover roast or pulled pork – use this where is says “pork” in the ingredients below

  • 450g red beans, soaked overnight
  • 200g of pork
  • 2 onions
  • 4 sticks of celery
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 chillies (optional)
  • 40g butter
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour
  • 2 pints stock
  • 1 tbsp creole seasoning mix
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 bay leaves

First make the roux. Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and mix to a smooth paste using a whisk. Cook over a medium-low flame for about 15 mins (stirring constantly) until dark mahogany brown. Add the stock and reserve.

Meanwhile, fry the pork in a pan until well browned all over. Remove from the pan and reserve. Dice the vegetables, garlic and chillies and fry in the leftover oil until softened and tender. Add the pork, beans, spices, bay leaves and the stock, bring to a rolling boil for 10 mins then turn down the heat and simmer for about 2hrs, or until the beans are cooked. Check seasoning and serve with rice.

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