Friday, January 14, 2011

Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans

I am ashamed of how long it has been since my last post.  My one New year's resolution - post more often.  You would think I could come up with a better resolution, or least a few more, but we all know I need to take baby steps.  So in an effort to start the year off right (yes I know it has been a new year for almost two weeks now - sshh!)  I thought I would tell you about my new electric pressure cooker and some of the wonderful things that can be done in it.  I love this machine!  It has made making dinner after a long day at work so much easier, and it doesn't heat up the kitchen so using it in the summer will be a breeze. Oh! and you can even make dessert in it! Yippee!

I have the Cuisinart 6 quart electric pressure cooker from Costco (thanks to a tip from my wonderful friend Carol).  If purchased in the warehouse it is $69.99 which is the lowest price I have seen on this cooker.  Some of this machine's features are:
  • Digital thermostat, 99-minute timer and LED countdown display
  • Programmed temperature settings: low and high pressure, browning, simmer, sauté and automatic keep warm
  • Non-Stick Cooking pot
  • Stainless Steel trivet
  • Cool-touch side handles
  • Dishwasher safe cooking pot and trivet


If you choose to purchase this machine, there is something you should be aware of.  Do NOT follow the instructions when it comes to placement of the pressure control valve.  The first time I tried to use it it would not build up pressure.  Now mind you I have used a stove top pressure cooker for years and have never had a problem (other than it is kind of a pain to put the lid on and it takes some experience learning to keep the pressure at a certain point) but I couldn't for the life of me get it to work properly.  I read the instructions a second and third time and still.....nothing!  I then called Carol and asked her. Thankfully she already had this model and had seen a demonstration of it being used.  She told me not to worry about lining up the dot on the valve control to the dot on the lid but to turn the valve control until I find the lowest point and that should take care of it. She had a problem with things burning when she followed the instructions but once she figured this little trick out all has been fine since.  At this point I even asked my 20 year old son to read the instructions and see if I was missing something.  Obviously I was desperate!  Finally I figured out that it actually needs to be on backwards (from what the picture in the manual shows) I was it worked great.

I have called Cuisinart and pointed this out to them.  The woman was very nice and said that she would let them know and that the change most likely will be made to the manual available online. I recommend making a small batch of rice first in order to be sure you are able to find the best way to place your valve release.  If you have trouble give them a call, they are very helpful.  Once you have it all figured out you will love your pressure too.

I have make several things in the cooker now but believe it or not the pinto beans seem to be the most popular.  The nice thing about this is that there is no soaking and rinsing and they are done in just over an hour from beginning to end.  Plus they are healthy!  Something that people with "real" resolutions might be looking for.  I served these with chicken tacos (filling also make in the pressure cooker - recipe to come) and Mexican rice.

Pinto Beans

2 Cups (1 lb) dry pinto beans
8 Cups water
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1-1/2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano (any dried oregano will be fine, Mexican is a little earthier)
1-2 pinches cayenne chili powder
2 Knorr Cilantro cubes or 2 tsp. dried cilantro or 2 T. fresh chopped cilantro
2 Knorr Chipotle Chili cubes or 2 tsp. dry chipotle chili powder or 2 canned chipotle chili crushed
Salt to taste ( I used about 1/2 tsp)

Rinse beans (do not soak them) to remove any dirt or other particles.  Set pressure cooker to high pressure.  Add the beans, water, onion, garlic powder, oregano and cayenne chili powder to the cooking pot.  Lock lid into place and set timer for 35 minutes of pressure (it will take about 10 or 15 minutes to build up the pressure then begin counting down the time).  Once the cooker has signaled that the cooking has completed allow the pressure to release naturally, this will take about 20 minutes.  Once the pressure has released open the lid carefully.  Keeping the cooker on "keep warm" setting sprinkle in the cilantro and chipotle chili.  If using the cubes just pinch the cubes and they will crumble quickly allowing you to to add it to the liquid easily.  Also, if you are using the cubes do not add any salt until you have stirred all the cubes in and tasted the liquid (the cubes contain some salt).  Add salt to taste.  Replace the lid, locking it in place is not necessary.  Allow to set for about 20 minutes in order for the beans to absorb some of the new flavors.

If you would like to freeze the cooked beans, place them in a freezer bag with enough liquid to just cover the beans, push out most of the air and seal bag.  Frozen beans can be stored in the freezer for 3 months.

Note:  The Knorr cilantro and chipotle chili cubes are great to have on hand to add to soups, meats and more.  I found them in the Hispanic food section of my local Walmart.  Carol looked for them at her Walmart (about 10 miles from me) but they did not carry them.  If you have a Latin food market near you , you may want to check there also. They can also be ordered online by following the link in the ingredients list or ---->click here the cilantro and ----> here for the chipotle

14 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Hello Laura! ; )

    Thanks for the photos of the cubes... had never seen them before and will look for them. Are they frozen or dry?

    When I pressure cook beans I always add a tablespoon of olive oil per cup of beans (so that would be about 2 tablespoons for one pound), to keep the beans from foaming too much.

    Also, at least for me, we almost never pressure cook them from dry. My family suffers quite a bit from the gas so I either soak them overnight in plenty of water, change the water in the morning and rinse well before pressure cooking (just 8 minutes for soaked beans) OR quick-soak them - a method that also removes the indigestible sugars that cause gas!

    If you're curious, here's how to do it...
    How to quick-soak beans.

    Ciao!

    L

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  3. Thank you so much for posting about the pressure valve... I have been debating on whether to take my pressure cooker back, because all the steam escapes before the timer even begins to count down. I am gonna try your suggestion and see if that takes care of my problem. Thank you!

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    1. I hope it works for you. If you continue to have problems give them a call, they are quite helpful. Thanks for stopping by.

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  4. Tried making this, including some diced ham left over in the freezer. A bit more liquid than I like, but that may be my fault. Served with cornbread muffins and hot relish.

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  5. I was using a pressure cooker for many years.
    I loved the pressure cooker and pressure cookers what helped me.
    I have a blog to share the shopping experience as well as using a pressure cooker.
    hope everyone has had for more helpful information.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

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  6. Beans cooked in pressure cooker were really soft and yummy in taste.Thanks for sharing this post.Pressure cooked food are really healthy and nutritious for health. I even love to cook in pressure cooker.

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  7. I'm very new to electric pressure cooking.
    How thick do beans get? I enjoy a thicker pot licker. Any tips I'd love to have too.
    Thanks!

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    1. The beans are a bit soupy but you could certainly simmer them with the lid off until it thickened or add a thicker (corn starch slurry, potatoes, or flour). I would not recommend reducing the water too much as the pressure cooker needs enough fluid to work properly.
      I hope you are enjoying your pressure cooker. I love using mine.

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    2. I take a few beans out and mash them and then put them back in cooker with lid off and simmer until the liquid is to my thickness preferrence

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  8. Thank you for this article, very helpful to those of use new to pressure cooking. Since I got mine I have used it about every other night, it's such a big help! A tip to thicken beans if you prefer not to use cornstarch or roux, I take some of the beans and use my hand held blender and blend them and add them back in with the beans, it will thicken them with no extra calories.

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  9. My husband has been experimenting with cooking pinto beans in the pressure cooker. He soaks them and rinses them before cooking. The problem he's having is that even after cooking them for 55 minutes at full pressure and letting the pressure release by itself, the beans are still not soft. Hello!

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    1. Salt and salty ingredients will impede beans from becoming tender for a crazy length of time. Salt and salty ingredients should only be added after desired tenderness has been reached. Happy cooking!

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  10. Hi there! Used this method yesterday with Anasazi beans. Different spices and added potatoes and pork hock, absolutely delicious, maybe less time next try since they were a little mushy, nonetheless good to know I don't necessarily have to soak them :) thanks for posting!

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