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
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8 servings
  • 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
  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 Chicken Chili

A Super Fast And Zesty Chicken and White Bean Chili


Yes, I know, another chili recipe. But even here in SoCal the weather has been cooler, or as I call it, Chili Weather, although I’m sure many of your who reside in other places would make sport of me for calling 69 degrees “cool”.

I came really close to not posting this. I made this chili a few times and thought it would be a good one to post, but in looking around on the interwebs, I noticed that pretty much everybody, and I mean everybody, has a recipe for White Bean and Chicken Chile. Rachel – Check. Emeril – Check. Pioneer ladies, ladies and their sons, shoeless contessas, paleo people, everybody. What can I do with these ingredients that hasn’t already been done, I thought to myself (which is my favorite way)? Well, after making this recipe several times and doing some tweaking, it has become one of my quickest recipes to prepare, yet is still quite tasty. In fact, if you use boneless skinless chicken tenders as I did, you don’t even have to cut up the chicken.


Put the pressure cooker pot over medium heat, or put your electric PC on “brown” or “saute” set to medium.

In a couple tablespoons of oil of your choice, brown the chicken a bit. I bought skinless boneless chicken tenders (sure, I grabbed them by accident, but they worked perfectly for this recipe). You can use 1-1/2 pounds of boneless skinless breasts and just cut them into couple-inch strips.


Remove the chicken to a plate and put the chopped onions in the pot. Sauté for a few minutes until they start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Add 2 teaspoons oregano, 1 tablespoon cumin and 1 tablespoon chili powder and stir into the onion mixture. Cook for another minute.

Now pour in just a splash of the chicken stock to deglaze, scraping any stuck chicken bits off the bottom.


Pour in the Salsa Verde. Make sure to use 16 ounces. I tried it with a 12-ounce jar and it just didn’t have enough flavor. If you can only find 12 ounce jars, buy 2. With the extra 8 ounces you can serve on the side with tortilla chips. And while you’re selecting your salsa, make sure it is made with tomatillos, not just green tomatoes. I think the tomatillos are what gives it a unique flavor, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you of that now, would I? No, I would not.

Add in 2 cans of drained and rinsed white beans. I have tried it with both Great Northern beans and with Cannelini Beans, and I prefer the Great Northern, but I will leave it to your discretion.


Now is the time to pour in the rest of the chicken stock.

Add a little salt and pepper and toss in the bay leaves.

Cover the pressure cooker and set to high pressure.

When pressure is reached, set timer for 8 minutes.

When time is up, do a quick release then remove the lid.

Put the pressure cooker pot over medium heat.


Make a slurry with 2 tablespoons of the Masa and about 1/4 cup water, and stir it into the chili. Note: If you like more of a soup consistency you can skip this step, but I like it thicker. Plus I think the masa adds a little flavor. If you cannot find masa, or don’t want to buy it just to use a couple tablespoons for this, you can substitute fine grind cornmeal. Or you can try the Alton Brown method for thickening chili. I haven’t tried it myself, but in one of his recipes for pressure cooker chili, he substitutes crushed tortilla chips for the masa. And since tortilla chips are basically masa harina in chip form, it makes sense. It is also something that you may already have on hand. So, I say go for it, and let me know how it works!


Simmer for another 3-4 minutes until thickened, then remove from heat. Adjust salt and pepper to your liking.

Add a squeeze of lime to each bowl.

You can serve it over rice, or with tortilla chips or bread on the side. I served it with rice this time.

You can top it with shredded cheese, or with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. I went for the yogurt this times (mostly because I didn’t have sour cream of cheese).


Pressure Cooker Chicken Chili
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
A quick and zesty chicken chili, perfect for a weeknight
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (I used chicken breast tenders this time) Cut in around 1 x 2 inch chunks
  • 2 cans white beans (Great Northern or Cannellini beans work well)
  • ½ large or 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed with press
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 16 oz. jar salsa verde (made with tomatillos)
  • 2 cups low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons Masa Harina dissolved in ¼ cup water (You can substitute fine-grind cornmeal for this, or even crushed tortilla chips).
  • 1-2 limes (optional)
  1. Over medium-high heat (or medium sauté setting on your electric pressure cooker), brown chicken pieces in a couple tablespoons oil (you will probably need to do this in a couple batches.
  2. Remove chicken to a plate
  3. Add onions to the pot (you may need to add a little more oil) and sauté until they start to soften
  4. Add in the garlic and cook for a couple minutes longer
  5. Stir in the oregano, cumin and chili powder and cook for about a minute
  6. Pour just a splash of the chicken broth into the pot to deglaze, scraping up any bits that are on the bottom
  7. Add the tomatillo salsa
  8. Add the chicken stock
  9. Turn heat to high (if using an electric pressure cooker, switch from sauté to pressure cook mode)
  10. Place top on pressure cooker and bring to high pressure
  11. Set time to 8 minutes
  12. When time is up, remove from heat and do a quick release
  13. Remove top
  14. Put pot back on medium heat and stir in Masa-water mixture
  15. Let simmer for about 5 minutes
  16. Remove from heat and serve with bread, tortilla chips or over rice
  17. Top with grated cheese, sour cream or yogurt
  18. I like to add a squeeze of lime to each bowl


Pressure Cooker Bean Chard Soup

A Hearty, Slightly Tuscan Influenced Bean Soup


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?


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

Pressure Cooker Bean Chard Soup
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
A hearty, Tuscan influenced soup. A quick weekday meal, perfect for the winter months.
  • 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)
  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