White Beans

White Beans + Ham Shank=Delicious!

Beans Bowl

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.

White Beans Ingredients

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.Pork Shank Onions

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.

Garlic Pressed

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.

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.

Pork Shank Meat

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.

Beans and Herbs

Remove from heat, and ladle into bowls. Serve with biscuits or corn bread.

I like it with a little hot sauce.

White Beans
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Serves: 8 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 ham shank (approximately 1.25 pounds), you can also use ham hocks or smoked turkey thigh
  • 1 large sweet onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 pound great northern beans, sorted, brined and rinsed
  • 1 level teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat
  2. Add the ham shank and onions to the pot
  3. Sauté, turning the ham shank occasionally, until the onions become translucent and ham shank is browned (about 5 minutes)
  4. Toss in the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  5. Sprinkle in the paprika, salt and and pepper and sauté for 30 seconds or so
  6. Dump in the beans
  7. Add in the water, then toss in the thyme and bay leaves
  8. Lock top on pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  9. Set time for 35 minutes
  10. When time is up, remove pressure cooker from heat and let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release
  11. Remove the ham shank to a plate and let it cool a couple minutes
  12. Remove the bay leaf and thyme stems
  13. Put pot over medium high heat for a couple minutes while waiting for the shank to cool
  14. Pull the meat off the bones and stir into the beans
  15. Simmer for just a couple more minutes to let it thicken slightly
  16. Serve in bowls with biscuits or corn bread

 

Pressure Cooker Frijoles Charros

Pressure Cooker Mexican Cowboy Beans

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These Frijoles Charros make a mui bueno side dish to any Mexican or barbecue meal, but are just as good on their own with tortillas or corn bread. As a matter of fact, they would be the perfect accompaniment to your Memorial Day BBQ, which coincidentally is this very weekend!

Frijoles_Charros_Ingredients

Yes, I know there is no beer in this picture, but in my usual quest to keep you on your toes, I followed my usual policy of leaving out one item. But to make up for it, I included two onions, even though I decided that one large one was enough.

Chopped_Veggies

This isn’t exactly health food, what with the multiple types of pork and all, but consumed only on occasion it can be a spicy, tasty treat.

Start by soaking a pound of beans. I like to soak them overnight, but I have used the quick-soak method a couple times and works in a pinch, but I still think the very best texture is achieved by the good old overnight soaking method.

Bacon

Once the beans are soaked, you can get started on the frijoles.

In the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons oil and sauté 1/2 pound of chopped thick cut bacon until it starts browning (or longer, if desired). I have found that the thick cut bacon doesn’t really get crispy like the thinner bacon, but has a nice chew to it that works great with this recipe.

Onions_Peppers_Beer_Rotel

Add a half-pound of Mexican chorizo and cook until it starts to crumble. It will finish cooking under pressure, you just don’t want a large block of cooked sausage when you are finished. I used bulk chorizo, but if yours is in a casing, remove it. Make sure it is Mexican chorizo, Spanish chorizo is a whole different animal, well not exactly, it is still pig, but just a different form of pig and is usually already cooked. Now, add half of the onion and continue to sauté until it just starts to soften.

Chorizo

Remove the meat and onion mixture to a bowl with a slotted spoon or one of these spider dealies:

Meat_Onions_Removing

If there is a large amount of grease left in the pan, you can drain all but 3 tablespoons or so, but don’t pour it all off, this is pure flavor. The red grease from the chorizo is especially flavorful.

Keeping the heat at medium high, in the fat left from the meat, add the rest of the onion and the Serrano chiles. Sauté until the onions start to soften, then add the garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.

Veggies_Beer

Add the beer, scraping up any meat bits from the bottom of the pan, then add a can of tomatoes with chiles (like good old Ro-Tel).

Now it’s time for the cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and the liquid smoke.

Onions_Peppers_Beer_Rotel

Add the beans and 5 cups of water and one tablespoon beef better than bouillon, then put the top on your pressure cooker and bring to high pressure (instead of the water and Better Than Bouillon, you can use 1 quart beef stock and 1 cup water).

Frijoles_Charros_Finished

When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain high pressure and set timer for 20 minutes.

When time is up, do a quick release (remember when cooking legumes, your pressure cooker should never be filled more than half full).

Remove cover and add the meat/onion mixture. Stir and return top to pressure cooker, then bring to high pressure once again.

Frijoles_Charros_Cooking

This time, set the time for 10 minutes. When the time is up, let the pressure come down on its own.

Remove top from pressure cooker and stir the contents, then serve in bowls as a side dish or main course.

Frijoles_Charros_Ribs3

The first night, I made ribs for dinner, and this was a side dish. When I had the leftovers the next day, I served it as a main course and had corn bread with it. And to be honest, I think I liked it better as a main dish. It would also be great with tortillas.

Enjoy!

Pressure Cooker Frijoles Charros
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Recipe type: Entree or Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Author:
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Serves: 6-8 servings
These spicy Mexican Cowboy Beans are good as a side dish or an entree
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans (soaked overnight)
  • ½ pound thick cut bacon, chopped
  • ½ pound Mexican chorizo (remove from casings if applicable)
  • 1 large onion, chopped and divided
  • 4 Serrano chiles, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chiles (such as Ro-Tel)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon beef flavored Better Than Bouillon (you can substitute 4 cups beef stock and 1 cup water for the water/Better Than Bouillon).
Instructions
  1. In the pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat, add two tablespoons oil
  2. Sauté the bacon until it starts browning (or longer, if desired)
  3. Add the chorizo and cook until it starts to crumble
  4. Add half of the onion and continue to sauté until it just starts to soften
  5. Remove the meat and onion mixture to a bowl with slotted spoon or spider
  6. If you have a large amount of grease, you can drain all but 3 tablespoons or so
  7. In the fat left from the meat, add the rest of the onion and the Serrano chiles
  8. Sauté until the onions start to soften
  9. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1-2 minutes
  10. Add the beer, scraping up any meat bits from the bottom of the pan
  11. Add the tomatoes with chiles
  12. Add the cumin, oregano, salt and pepper
  13. Add the liquid smoke
  14. Add the beans
  15. Pour in the 5 cups of water and 1 tablespoon Beef Flavored Better Than Bouillon
  16. Put top on pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  17. When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain high pressure
  18. Set timer for 20 minutes
  19. When time is up, do a quick release to bring pressure down quickly
  20. Remove cover and add the meat/onion mixture
  21. Stir and return top to pressure cooker
  22. Bring to high pressure again
  23. Set time for 10 minutes
  24. When time is up, let pressure come down on its own
  25. Remove top from pressure cooker and stir
  26. Serve in bowls as side dish or main course

Pressure Cooker Bean Chard Soup

A Hearty, Slightly Tuscan Influenced Bean Soup

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It wasn’t my intention to take a brief hiatus from this blog, but with having gotten married in December, then the holidays sneaking up on me, before I knew it, here we are in 2014 and I didn’t even post any awesome holiday recipes! But finally things are settling down a bit, so here is a recipe for a nice, warming winter soup.

CBS INGREDIENTS

The problem with winter soups where I live (particularly this winter), is that when you do your shopping and when you prepare the meals can be like two entirely different seasons. For instance, when I bought these ingredients on a Sunday, temperatures were in the mid-fifties F. On Tuesday when I prepared this dish, it was 85 degrees during the day, but had at least cooled down some by the time I got home from work. But it still was quite good, even though something in the salad family may have been more appropriate.

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There is a lot of room for improvising in this recipe. I have made it with pinto beans and kale, rather than white beans and chard, and both turned out tasty.

It is important to soak the beans for this recipe, just so everything can cook in the same time frame. If you don’t have time, or if you forget to soak the beans you can use this quick-soak method.

Also, I should probably add that I am using smoked ham shanks for this. That’s all that is available around here, but I am told that fresh ones are also available in some places. The smoked ones are basically already cooked, so work well with this timing. The twelve minutes plus the natural release time seem to work fine. Fresh would take much longer cooking time.

WhiteBeansSoaking

You could also use your favorite Italian seasoning rather than the individual herbs, but for recipe purposes I usually like to list individual herbs and spices since folks are more likely to have the individual items on hand.

ChardChopped

Also, two ham hocks or shanks would be plenty for this, but I was only able to find packs of three and didn’t want to waste any. I have also used salt pork with good results. And if you would like to make it a bit more italian, pancetta would work quite well, though I haven’t had a chance to try that yet.

This could easily be made into a vegetarian/vegan dish also, but I would recommend adding a little liquid smoke or substituting the tomatoes with fire-roasted tomatoes just to keep a little smokiness in the dish.

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If you have a cooker smaller than 7 liters (7.4 quarts), you will need to cut the recipe in half. I have the 7-liter Kuhn Rikon and this comes right up to the maximum fill line (2/3 full).

I have used Kale in a bag to make this recipe even quicker, but I have to say I prefer the chard. Collard greens would work as well. Any fairly sturdy green should work, though I don’t think spinach would hold up too well for the 12-minute cooking time, but I haven’t tried it, so what do I know?

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If you try it, let me know how it turns out and any changes you might have tried.

Pressure Cooker Bean Chard Soup
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
A hearty, Tuscan influenced soup. A quick weekday meal, perfect for the winter months.
Ingredients
  • 1 tbs. olive oil
  • 2-3 smoked ham shanks or hocks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 package (16 oz.) small white beans, soaked overnight (or use the quick-soak method)
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • ½ tsp. fennel
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • ½ tsp. mustard powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tbs. Sherry Vinegar
  • 1 tbs. honey
  • 1 package (32 oz.) broth (I used vegetable, but chicken or beef would work)
  • 1 package (26 oz.) tomatoes
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 large bunch chard (stems removed, cleaned and chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • parmesan cheese and chopped cilantro (for topping)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil over medium heat
  2. Add pork shanks and brown lightly
  3. Add in the onion and carrot and saute until onions are translucent
  4. Add garlic and saute for another minute or two
  5. Add the basil, oregano, thyme, fennel, red pepper flakes and mustard powder
  6. Stir to coat the vegetables and meat
  7. Add in the tomatoes, broth, worcestershire sauce, vinegar, honey and bay leaves and stir
  8. Add in the beans
  9. Add the water
  10. Add some salt and pepper according to your preference
  11. Put in the chard on top of beans (you may have to stir for a minute or so until the chard starts to wilt a little so that you don't go over the maximum fill line)
  12. Put cover on pressure cooker and turn heat to high until high pressure is reached
  13. When pressure is reached, turn down heat to maintain high pressure and set timer for 12 minutes
  14. When timer sounds, remove from heat. Let pressure come down naturally.
  15. I usually remove the hocks, let cool slightly and remove the meat from the bones, then stir the meat back into the soup.
  16. Serve topped with freshly grated parmesan and cilantro