Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A great pot of (pinto) beans doesn't have to take hours!

We eat a lot of pinto beans around here, as I'm sure you can tell from my posts. They are inexpensive, versatile, delicious, and keep indefinatly in their dried state.

But they take forever too cook. Used to. Not anymore.

I can start a pot of beans from dry, unsoaked, and they will be done in just about an hour.

Enter an old freind... the pressure cooker.

I know we have all heard horror stories of lids blown off and food permanently embedded in the ceiling. Modern pressure cookers are safe! More safety gadgets on them than a nuclear power plant.

Mine however, is about 20 years old. It has 2 safety gadgets. One locks the lid when there is any pressure at all, so you can't accidently remove the lid when you shouldn't. The other is a small rubber plug that will blow before anything else if there is a problem.

The best safety with mine is keeping close by and keeping a keen ear tuned to it. Once it has pressre and the regulator begins to rock, the sound (spt, spt, spt) should continue. If it stops making noise, it needs your immediate attention!

Now for the beans. Note, different size cookers can safely handle different amounts of foods. In mine, with beans, you never want to fill it more than half full, beans AND water.

Sort and wash your beans. Place in cooker, and cover with 2" of water. Remember, the beans and water should not fill the cooker more than half-full. Add salt and pepper, and some sort of oil. This keeps the foaming down, you do not want to omit this. I use bacon grease, about 3 tablespoons.

Place the lid securely on the cooker and bring up to pressure. Once it reaches operating pressure, on my cooker, I reduce heat to the point where the pressure regulator on the top of the cooker is gently rocking. Once operating pressure is reached, set your timer for 50 minutes.

When the timer goes off, shut off the heat and let the pressure drop on its own. When the pressure is all gone, remove the lid to reveal your pot of beans, ready to enjoy!

Serve with warm corn bread, or use the beans in other recipes.

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