I disagree that andouille is absolutely essential to an authentic red beans & rice. By definition, Cajun and Creole cuisine is "peasant food" that makes use of what is on hand by people who lived off the land (e g. Cajun) and/or cooked with secondary protein sources rejected by the rich (basically, the scraps - e.g. Creole). I think what you purists are referring to as "authentic" is in fact "traditional".
In New Orleans even, andouille isn't the only protein that can be used in an authentic red beans recipe. You could use andouille, or tasso, or boudin. In the bayou (e.g. Donaldsonville, etc.) and on the plantation (West Feliciana Parish, etc.) you would also see smoked turkey necks, smoked ham hocks, pig feet, pork belly, alligator meat, etc.
In fact, some of the oldest and most authentic recipes I've found for this dish contain only salt pork or pickled pork.
I've even found fully vegetarian recipes that are older than the invention of andouille. Let's not forget, this dish is all about stretching a small amount of protein into a full meal in the autumn months when meat is scarce and what meat they had was being hoarded/preserved for winter.
All that being said, I absolutely love andouille. I just find it ludicrous to get all snooty and stuck up about what started off as the furthest thing in the world from pretentious.
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I disagree that andouille is absolutely essential to an authentic red beans & rice. By...