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. (more…)

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Southern Favorite with a French Twist: Soup Beans with Red Wine

October 22, 2012

French Soup Beans

At the age of 18, I moved away from Tennessee to the midwest, and I had more than my fair share of culture shocks. Most of these had to do with food. A ham biscuit at Hardee’s was made with deli ham, because no one north of Kentucky had ever heard of country ham. White Lily flour was only sold in Williams-Sonoma, and a small bag would cost you eight dollars. Barbecue was most often beef, most often ribs. And in the self-proclaimed barbecue capital of the world, being invited to a barbecue didn’t mean you were going to get smoked meat, but that you were simply grilling out some burgers and hotdogs. And soup beans… no one knew what these were. How was I to explain it? I had no other words for soup beans – they were soup beans, cooked and served with cornbread most usually. (more…)

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