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Pressure cooking beans

February 13th, 2011 · 3 Comments · Cooking, Family, Recipes

Saturday’s family dinner came on fast and after a long workday Friday, I simply ran out of time. But no matter how busy I am, I always try to find a healthy option to please my family. So what is one to do when one has committed to bringing homemade beans to a family dinner and it’s 7:30 at night? One grabs the pressure cooker!

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, get one. Pressure cookers are fantastic time savers and, since they cook so fast, enable you to have delicious pot roasts and stews in the 100′ summer. If you’re into that kind of thing, which we are. 🙂 They can also cook beans in 15-25 minutes. Hello?! Who wouldn’t love that!

Now the first thing I need to tell you is a little secret that Mama taught me. Sit down because this will rock your world. Are you ready?

Don’t soak your beans.

Yes, way.

Yes, I’m totally serious.

Yes, they’re edible.

No, I’m not lying.

For years I, like every other cook I know, diligently soaked my beans overnight (or the quick soak method) like the package told me. Then I would bring the beans to a boil and simmer all day long. Making beans was SUCH a chore. I mean, it took two freaking days! And usually I would give up making the $1.00 bag of dried beans and go get four $1.00 cans of cooked beans off the shelf.

Ahhhh, starting to make a little sense now eh?

Anyway, Mama told me that was a waste of time and cooking all day would be a waste of fuel — why on earth would you do that? What you do is rinse them, boil them for a couple hours, and then you eat beans.

Yes, I’m serious. It’s really that easy.

For Mama’s beans you boil them twice — once covered to get them cooked and once uncovered to soften them and thicken the sauce. Here’s how.

Since I was out of time Friday night, I used the pressure cooker for the first boil. I took 4 cups of dried pinto beans, rinsed them, and put them into my cooker.  Then added 3 cups of water for every 1 cup of beans = 12 cups.  I normally would just add water to about 2″ over the beans but for the pressure cooker, I make sure there’s plenty.

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Add a chopped onion, 3 chopped jalapenos, 2 chopped cloves of garlic, pepper, and about 2 tablespoons of bacon grease. Do NOT salt them for the first boil.

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Put the cooker lid on and seal it. For mine, I turn the heat on high and wait for the pressure to build which causes the weight on top to rise. This little black thingy will start rising and that’s what I’m waiting on.

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While I’m waiting on the pressure to build I made the pico de gallo, which is so super simple — equal parts tomato and onion, 2-3 jalepenos, 2 gloves garlic, juice of a lime, and a bunch of cilantro then S&P.

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The pressure was just starting to build and the weight started rising…..

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While I was waiting for the proper amount of pressure I shredded the pork butt that had cooked all day.

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At this point my house was smelling like heaven and I considered not packing up this feast for the family.

Now we’re getting there! I needed to see both red marks which means the pot is at the proper pressure so I started turning the heat down in increments and set the clock timer for about 10 minutes.

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After about 15 minutes I turned the heat off and let the pot come down on it’s own. After 20 minutes my weight was here……..

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…… and I was out of patience. So I took a wooden spoon to push down on the weight and release the rest of the pressure. Well pressure is, of course, steam, so naturally this happened.

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After wiping off the camera, I went back in.

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I carefully removed the lid (LOTS of steam!) and this is what greeted me.

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So-close-to-being-fully-cooked pinto beans! All you would have to do at this point is add salt and maybe a little seasoning then boil uncovered for another 20 minutes or so and viola! Beans for dinner in less than an hour and at a cost of $1.00. Doesn’t get any better than that. So at this point, I could continue on with the second boil but my sister in law, Teressa, and wanted to see a little of the cooking so I just packed them up to finish at her house.

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When I got to Teressa’s house I dumped the beans into her stockpot and added salt then boiled them uncovered for an hour or so. Wasn’t really necessary but we were cooking other things and catching up and you know how distracted woman can get in the kitchen together!

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During the second boil the sauce will thicken from the starch and you want to keep the water just barely over the beans. I usually remove half the beans and put into containers to use in chili but since we needed refried beans for the feast, I didn’t do that with this batch. When they’re as soft as you want them, add about 1/3 cup of lard and use a stick blender or masher to get them the consistently that you like. Mine looked like this when I told Teressa to grab a chip and give them a taste.

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She promptly declared them delicious and all was right with the world. She may or may not have even kissed me on the cheek.

These beans can be put into containers and kept in the freezer, just microwave whenever you want them. They are fantastic in burritos, as a side dish, or just hot with cheese for dipping chips.

Next up, everyday rice!

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