A couple months ago, a reader asked if I could post some simple bean recipes. At that time we were in the middle of a scorching heat wave, so I put any bean recipes on the back burner (figuratively of course, if the beans had actually been on the back burner they would be quite scorched by now). But now that we are starting to see the beginning of El Niño, which I believe is Spanish for “crappy weather”, it is now the perfect time to be trotting out some bean recipes. This here one is super simple but quite flavorful thanks to smoked ham shank and a couple common herbs and spices.
I used a ham shank that weighed in at 1-1/4 pounds. You could substitute ham hocks (is there actually a difference anyway?), or you could use an equivalent size of smoked turkey thigh.
For the beans, I highly recommend soaking in salted water. I know, it has always been a hard and fast rule that you shouldn’t add salt until after cooking or your beans will be tough. Lately, however, I have been seeing a lot of people suggest soaking the beans in salt water (brining). And by George I think they are onto something. Normally I would soak the beans overnight, but I didn’t buy them until the morning that I was going to make this. I used a pound of beans, sorted them and removed the weird ones, rinsed them, covered them with water by about 2 inches above the beans and added 2 tablespoons of salt and stirred it all together. I let them soak for about 5 hours and that was plenty of time. Rinse them again before adding to the dish.
Heat a little oil in the pressure cooker pot, then add a ham shank and some chopped onions. Sauté, turning the ham shank occasionally until the onions are translucent and the shank is browned.
Run 5 cloves of garlic through a press, toss in the pot and sauté for another minute.
Put some paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt (that should be plenty, remember that we already salted the beans) and a little black pepper into the onion mixture and stir for 30 seconds.
Dump in the beans, pour in 6 cups of water, then toss in the thyme and bay leaves.
Lock the top on the cooker and bring to high pressure. Adjust the heat to maintain high pressure.
Set the time for 35 minutes.
When the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes then do a quick release.
Uncover and remove the ham shank to a plate and let it cool enough to pull the meat from the bones.
In the meantime, put the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer.
When cool enough, pull the meat from the shank and stir into the beans. Continue to simmer for a couple more minutes to thicken slightly.
Remove from heat, and ladle into bowls. Serve with biscuits or corn bread.
The last time I made this it took 34 minutes, but I will round it down to 30 anyway. It will vary slightly depending on whether you are using an electric or stove top pressure cooker.
This is another one of my super quick weeknight recipes. With no fewer than 3 canned or jarred items, the entire dish takes around a half hour. In the electric it took about 34 minutes. It is a little quicker on the stove top model, since it comes up to pressure a little quicker.
This recipe can easily be doubled. When I do that, I usually use one can of kidney beans and one can of pinto beans. Of course, doubling the recipe will increase the time a bit since there is more liquid to bring to a boil.
Start by heating a little oil in the pressure cooker over medium high heat. If using an electric pressure cooker, set sauté mode to high.
Add the beef and brown. It’s ok if there’s a little pink, it will finish cooking under pressure.
Add 1-1/2 tablespoons of your favorite chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Adjust salt before serving. Depending on the salt in your salsa and beans you may need to add a little more. Sauté for a minute or so.
Drain and rinse the beans, then dump them in.
Now add a can of Ro-Tel and a 16 ounce jar of salsa. I find it works best with a medium-heat chunky salsa. Pace medium picante sauce works well.
Add 1/2 cup water and stir it all together.
Lock the top on the cooker and bring to high pressure.
Set time for 8 minutes.
When time is up, do a quick release.
Serve in bowls with your favorite toppings, such as onion, sour cream and grated cheese.
I usually serve it with tortilla chips or corn bread.
Speedy, Spicy, Scrumptious Chili in Less Than 30 Minutes!
I know what you’re thinking, “Yet another chili recipe?”
The thing about this one is that it is the quickest chili to make out of all my chilis. In less than 30 minutes including the time it takes to come up to pressure and release the pressure, you can have a tasty meal ready and on the table!
I was looking for something hearty to make for dinner befitting this cool weather we’ve been having lately. The weather plummeted to 72 degrees today. But really, it has been getting down to the 50s at night, so it really is soup weather. I didn’t want to make chili again since I already had that twice this week. I was pondering what to prepare while having a beer and for some reason it came to me, I will make something with barley it it!
Mushrooms are a natural and classic combination with barley. And I added beef to add even more to the heartiness and to make it a full meal. Just add some sort of bread and you’re set.
I used pre-cut stew beef because I am lazy, but chuck cut into cubes will work as well.
Heat 2 tablespoons cooking oil in pressure cooker on medium-high heat. I used the electric pressure cooker, so I used the Sauté setting on HIGH.
Next, brown the beef on one side, seasoning with salt and pepper while it is browning, then remove to plate. Browning just one side is enough to give it the browned flavor.
If there is a lot of fat from the meat, drain all but 2 tablespoons. Mine was pretty lean, so I didn’t drain at all.
Sauté some diced onion until translucent.
Add the Italian seasoning, paprika, salt, garlic powder and pepper. Stir it in with the onions and sauté for about 30 seconds.
Splash in a little wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Just a couple tablespoons of wine is plenty.
Add some frozen peas and carrots, sliced crimini mushrooms and barley.
Add the meat back into the pan then pour in some beef broth and a little water.
Toss the bay leaves on top.
Lock the cover on the pressure cooker, and set to high pressure for 18 minutes.
When time is up let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.
Mac and Cheese, Made Quicker in the Pressure Cooker!
There is nothing better than a big pan of macaroni and cheese, made with a roux and then baked in the oven until the cheese on top is crusty and the breadcrumbs are nicely browned.
But what if you need the comfort of mac and cheese on a weeknight and you don’t have a couple of spare hours to make dinner? What then, huh?
There is always the dreaded “Blue Box”, but you can do better than that, a lot better.
I based this recipe on Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese, but made it even quicker by cooking the pasta in the pressure cooker. I used the Instant Pot, which is perfect for this recipe. I also doubled it from Alton Brown’s recipe and added a little garlic powder. Of course, nothing is as good as good old baked mac and cheese, but this is much, much, much better than the blue box.
Start by cooking the pasta. Dump the pasta into the inner pot of the electric pressure cooker and pour in enough water to cover. 4 cups was the right amount for me. Since you are going to drain it, it doesn’t have to be an exact amount. Salt the water as you would when cooking any pasta.
For the timing, whatever time the package states for al dente, divide that in half and that is the time you should use for your pressure cooker. Set at LOW pressure and set time (it was 6 minutes for my pasta).
While the pasta is cooking you can get the cheese and sauce ready.
Grate about a pound of cheese, whatever kind you like. I find sharp cheddar and pepper jack to be a good combo. Set this aside and put the sauce together.
In a large bowl, combine 4 beaten eggs, a can (12 ounces) of evaporated milk, some salt, pepper, dry mustard, garlic powder and some hot sauce. Stir until blended.
When the time is up for your pasta, do a quick release and drain the pasta.
Replace the inner pot in the pressure cooker and change to the sauté mode set to medium. I tried low, but it wasn’t quite hot enough once I started adding the cheese, so you will have to be diligent with your stirring responsibilities to prevent burning.
Dump the pasta back into the pressure cooker and plop in the stick of butter. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “A whole stick of butter!!!?”. Yes, that’s right. We are making macaroni and cheese after all. If this makes you squeamish just chuck the whole thing and go steam some kale.
Stir frequently until the butter is melted.
Pour in the egg and milk mixture and stir frequently until it just reaches a simmer.
Now, add in the cheese a handful at a time and as it melts drop in another handful. Keep stirring until all the cheese is melted and it looks smooth.
Stir for another minute or so after all the cheese is incorporated and melted, then turn off the pressure cooker and remove the inner pot so that it stops cooking.
Like most mac and cheese, this is best served right away. Spoon on plates and add a vegetable on the side to appease your conscience.
I happened to have some corn chips so I put a few on top to add a little crunch.
So, next time you go reaching for the Blue Box, remember that you could have some creamy, tasty, gooey homemade macaroni and cheese instead, Sure, it won’t have that radioactive orange color, but the flavor will more than make up for it!