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 Smoky Swiss Steak

A Smoky Twist On The Classic

Swiss Steak Reduced

I don’t know if there is actually anything Swiss about this dish. According to Wikipedia there actually is a way of preparing steak in Switzerland that is similar to this, but I don’t know if I’m buying it.

My guess is that tenderizing the meat by poking holes in it recalls Swiss Cheese, but that is just my guess.

Swiss Steak Ingredients

This is something I grew up with. I don’t think I have seen it once since I have been on the West Coast, but in Michigan we probably had it once a week or so the entire time I was growing up.

Speaking of the West Coast, temperatures are still in the nineties, so once again I got up early to do my cooking. I have posted salad recipes for the past few weeks, but from what I hear, it is actually seeming like Autumn in parts of the country (and the rest of the world), so I thought I would prepare something a bit more Autumn-y for those of you not sweating in a hot apartment.

Meat Whole

I used top round, but bottom round or chuck will work fine. Sirloin would work, but that’s getting into spendy territory, which you are probably trying to avoid if you are making this type of dish.

Start by taking 1-1/2 to 2 pounds of meat and cut into serving-size pieces, which would probably be 4 pieces for 1-1/2 pounds and about 6 pieces for 2 pounds. I did this by cutting my steak in half, so I have two pieces. Now, cut each of these pieces horizontally through the center so that it is half as thick as before. The goal is to end up with four equal-sized pieces, which I failed miserably at.

Meat Divided

Now, go to town on them with one of these poundy poky things:

Mallet

You don’t need to get it super-thin, you just want to get all the meat to a fairly uniform thickness.

Meat Tenderized

Slice a couple small onions. I used “The Widowmaker” (my nickname for my mandoline). This will make short work of those onions (and anything else that you might get a little too close to it).

Slice a large green pepper into thin strips and press a couple cloves of garlic.

Onion_Mandoline

The “smoky” part of this Swiss Steak comes from using fire-roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika.

In a couple tablespoons of coconut oil (or any cooking oil), brown the steak lightly on both sides. It is pretty thin at this point, so you don’t want to overdo it. Do a couple at a time so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Remove to a plate.

Meat Browning

Add the onions and peppers to the pan (adding a bit more oil if necessary) and sauté until they start to soften a bit. Toss in the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute or so.

Onions_Peppers_CookingAdd just a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan. Now, pour in a can of fire-roasted tomatoes, a tablespoon of tomato paste, some Worcestershire sauce, the smoked paprika, a little dried thyme and some salt and pepper.

Veggies_PanAdd the meat to the pan and toss in a couple bay leaves.

Swiss Steak Cooked

Lock the cover on the pan and turn heat to high.

Bring it to high pressure, then adjust heat to maintain high pressure.

Set the time for 20 minutes.

When the time is up, remove from heat and let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes, then do a quick release.

Swiss Steak Reduced2

If you would like the sauce a bit thicker, put over medium-high heat for 5-7 minutes until it cooks down to desired thickness.

Serve with potatoes, rice or egg noodles.

 

 

Pressure Cooker Smoky Swiss Steak
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
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Serves: 4 servings
Fire roasted tomatoes and smoked paprika give a slightly smoky twist to this classic
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, or other cooking oil
  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds round or chuck steak, cut into individual portions
  • 2 small or one large sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 splash red wine
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste), more for seasoning meat
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste), more for seasoning meat
  • 2 bay leaves
Instructions
  1. Tenderize steaks with spiky side of mallet and season with a little salt and pepper
  2. Heat oil in pressure cooker pot over medium-high heat
  3. Brown meat lightly on both sides and set aside on plate
  4. Sauté onions and peppers until slightly soft (add a little more oil if necessary)
  5. Add the garlic and continue to sauté for another minute
  6. Add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan
  7. Add the fire-roasted tomatoes and tomato paste
  8. Add the Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, paprika, thyme and salt and pepper
  9. Stir, then add meat back to pan
  10. Toss a couple bay leaves on top
  11. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  12. When high pressure is reached, adjust heat to maintain high pressure and set time for 20 minutes
  13. When time is up, remove from heat and let pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then do a quick release
  14. Serve meat and sauce with rice, egg noodles or potatoes.