The pressure cooker diaries: Red beans and rice

May 20, 2013

Red Beans and Rice

Something I’ve had my eye on for quite a while now is a pressure cooker. Yes, like most of us, my mom and grandmothers had an ancient version that sits on the stove top, sputtered around with this funny metal thing on top that spouted steam, and quite frankly sounds like a scary pain in the rear to use with all the caution needed to ensure it doesn’t explode whatever food you’re cooking all over the kitchen, the hot stove, you, guests, etc. So while I was intrigued by being able to shave hours of time off my cooking, I still couldn’t quite pull the trigger on buying such a monstrosity.

Then I discovered the electric versions. Still, I couldn’t pull the trigger. Another large item that does just one thing. One thing maybe well… I wasn’t sure. Since it wasn’t like my mom’s, and like my grandmothers’, maybe it didn’t quite work as well. So I continued to put off the purchase.

Then, then I found out there were units that pressure cooked and slow cooked. A slow cooker is another item that I have put off buying, mainly because I’m super-paranoid about the idea of leaving food cooking while not at home (i.e. the way slow cookers are marketed – “Come home to a heavenly meal!”). But I must admit, occasionally I think I want one, and that I should quit being so paranoid. At the least it might be handy on those work-from-home days or the weekends when I’m around. Though, really, wouldn’t my dutch oven suffice.

I digress. I settled on a pressure cooker – the Nesco PC6-25P 6-quart electric programmable pressure cooker (isn’t that a mouthful?). I unearthed it from its box, cleaned it up, then tried to decide what on earth I should make that needed to be cooked quickly. My initial foray was a pulled pork, which did work out quite well, if not missing a bit of the smokiness I would expect. Then I moved onward and upward to beans. How I hate soaking beans the night before! This would change everything for me. Especially since the manual said the beans would cook in 5 to 7 minutes.

I’m here to tell you, that time is off for red kidney beans. The green lentils were spot on at 5 minutes under pressure, but the red kidney beans, unsoaked per instruction, needed more time. Like a good solid hour. Which is still better than not having red beans and rice at all since you didn’t soak your beans over night. Or cooking them for a few hours, waiting for them to soften up, but them either never quite getting there or splitting into mush. Or, most often, some weirdness that melds those two.

So, an hour under pressure, plus a little time on the front end for sauteeing the veggies (which you can do in the Nesco, since it has a browning function), and a little time at the end for boiling off any excess water. Perfect timing for me to come home, start dinner, get in a yoga session (or a couch potato session) then step back out to a yummy, satiating dinner.

Red Beans and Rice
Makes 6 servings
3 tablespoons bacon fat
1 pound dried red kidney beans
2 1/2 cups finely chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onions
2 cups finely chopped green bell peppers
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon Tabasco
10 cups water
Salt, to taste
Olive oil, if pressure cooking
6 andouille sausages, grilled
6 cups steamed white rice
Hot sauce to serve

Set the pressure cooker to browning functionality. Alternately, soak your beans overnight and start off on the oven over a medium high heat. Add the bacon fat, and as it melts, add the celery, onion, and green pepper, sauteing until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes. Add in the seasonings from the bay leaves through the black pepper, and continue stirring and sauteing until the spices have begun to cook a bit and are throughly mixed with the vegetables, about 1 1/2 minutes.

Add the kidney beans, water, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Two notes: 1) If you are cooking stove top without a pressure cooker, don’t add the olive oil. This is to help keep the foam down in the pressure cooker, as advised by the manual. Also, you should have soaked your beans overnight, draining excess water before cooking.
2) The pressure cooker manual says not to add salt until the end. I can’t imagine not having the salt permeate the beans. Thus I ignored the manual. I have no idea why I shouldn’t add the salt. It didn’t seem to affect the machine in any way. But maybe it effects it in a long term way I haven’t discovered. So here’s my big disclaimer: the manual says not to do this. I throw caution to the wind so I have good beans. And thus, good wind. Yes, I just went there.

So back to instructions. At this point, give everything a good stir, turn off the browning function, and get the pressure cooker lid. Set the pressure cooker to cook on high for 60 minutes. At this point get your rice and sausages prepped to be cooked (or, just go ahead and cook them, keeping them warm for later). Go do whatever you do when you get home. Yoga, glass(es) of wine, couch potato with your fave trash tv shows, chase after kids… the options are endless. In 60 minutes, when the machine starts beeping, let it beep. Let it decompress on it’s own for a while if you want. Or, use the vent and release the steam, being careful not to burn yourself or splatter bacon-grease-laced water everywhere. I do this by carefully draping a paper towel over the vent. This will likely burn you, at least until the paper towel is soaked. So, just be warned.

If you’re doing this without the pressure cooker, cook the beans covered for 2ish hours, or until the beans are tender.

When the pressure has come down to the point you can take the lid off, take the lid off. Set the cooking function back to brown and let the mixture bubble for another 10 minutes or so, letting some of the liquid evaporate. During this time, give the mixture a taste and season with additional salt if needed. You can also finish up the rice and andouille if you left it for later (because, really, you can bubble the mixture for 20 minutes if you’d like, no big deal so long as you have sufficient moisture left, and if you don’t, just switch over to the warming function). To serve, scoop a cup of rice into a bowl. Ladle beans generously over the rice. Place a freshly grilled andouille sausage on the side of the bowl. Season liberally with hot sauce if desired. Dig in, and imagine you’ve spent a couple of days laboring over this meal. And then enjoy the leftovers, because they’re really, really good.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Leave a Reply