I remember a day when I would avoid the whole idea of cooking beans from scratch. To some, like my parents, it was no big deal at all. Eight o’clock in the morning and most times past midnite, my Mom would be sorting and cleaning beans to prepare a large pot. And, yes, many times, if you were lucky enough to be chosen, you would sit and help sort and clean the beans. The broken beans and small stones had to be removed before the beans were rinsed and put to soak overnight. The beans were always cooked in the stainless steel pot, handle missing and all, it always gave us the best frijoles de olla(beans in a pot). When Mom wasn’t looking we would serve up a fresh bowl of beans, add fresh lemon or lime juice, chopped onions and serrano chile. Oh, don’t forget that charred corn tortilla cooked directly on the gas stove top. One of the best meals ever! Since then, I have learned to cook beans from scratch, but even better, I cook them in my pressure cooker. I know what you’re thinking, It’s scary! Will it blow up? I can’t do it! Lol! Believe me I was the same way. After my long stay in Mexico with my tia Minerva, she inspired me and gave me that little push to try the pressure cooker. So happy I tried.
Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans~Healthy Refried Beans
1 pound dried pinto beans
1 white onion
4 cloves garlic
1 jalapeño, stem removed and sliced in half
2 bay leaves
Tips~ if you want to add some smoky pork flavor try adding a smoked ham hock, smoked ham steak or smoked pork chops. They are all pre-cooked and will add great flavor to the beans. And in a pinch, I always keep some Goya “Jamon”, ham seasoning packets in my pantry. It’s like a concentrated smoked ham flavor in a powder form.
1. Soak the beans overnight. I will confess right up front! I only soaked mine for 1 hour before cooking them. True story. LOl! Next day, (if you are waiting until the next day)drain the beans and transfer to the pressure cooker. Cover with 6 to 7 cups of water. Make sure you don’t go over the allowed water level for your pressure cooker. Add 1/2 the onion, 4 cloves garlic, jalapeño, 2 bay leaves and 2 – 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
2. Secure and lock the lid. Cook on high until the security valve seals and pressure cooker begins to hiss. Reduce the temperature in between medium/low. If you have an electric stove, set it at number 2. Set timer for 35 minutes. Carefully remove from heat and wait for safety valve to release.
3. Once it releases, unlock and open lid. Check for tenderness of beans. If beans are still a little tough, cook uncovered for 20 minutes at medium heat. Season to taste with salt. Remove the bay leaves. Using a slotted spoon, add all of the beans, including onion, garlic and jalapeño to the blender. Ladle in just enough bean broth to fill blender. Cover tightly and blend until smooth. Set aside.
4. For Healthy Refried Beans: In a large, deep skillet, preheat 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. Once hot add the remaining onions and saute for 6 to 8 minutes. Carefully pour in the beans from the blender. Continue cooking for 6 to 8 minutes at a light simmer. If you want a thicker bean, cook a little longer. If you like a thinner bean, add some chicken broth or water.
Tips~ To cook the pinto beans on the stove top, follow directions and soak overnight. Next day, drain water and transfer to large pot. Cover with 8 to 10 cups of water, 1/2 onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1 jalapeno and 2 bay leaves. bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Cover 3/4 of the way and continue cooking for 2 to 3 hours. If the water reduces too much, replace with hot water. I keep a pot of hot water on low for this recipe. Once beans are tender, salt to taste.
Nowadays, most of the packaged beans are pretty clean. it never hurts to sort through them anyway and give them a good rinse before soaking and cooking.
After conquering the pressure cooker, I don’t think I would ever go back to cooking beans for 3 hours in a pot, lol!
Anytime you blend anything with hot liquid, it’s not a bad idea to let it cool slightly. Secure lid with a kitchen towel and hold down while you blend.
The beans will usually look pretty light in color after being blended.
If you want to add some color and flavor to your beans, add 2 teaspoons chile ancho powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon garlic and hot sauce, to taste while they simmer.
Frijoles con Veneno -Beans with Chorizo and Chile Sauce. I have to admit, the title in Spanish sounds terrible, lol! It literally translates to “Beans with Poison”, Lol! But, just like with any dish, we can make it to suit our taste and diet. In this case I used my version of refried beans, homemade chorizo and chile sauce from scratch. This recipe was inspired by my last trip to Monterrey and dinner at one of the popular restaurants.
4 cups previously cooked “healthy refried beans”
1 pound cooked Mexican chorizo, cooked
1 cup chile sauce, see recipe below
For Chile Sauce
6 large chile ancho or 8 chile guajillo
8 chile de arbol
2 to 3 cloves garlic
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon mexican oregano
1 1/2 tablespoons red or white vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Remove stems and seeds from chile ancho or guajillos. If chile de arbol have stems, remove them as well. Transfer to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Let them steep in the water for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chiles to the blender. Add the garlic and 2 cups of water. Blend on high until smooth. Strain into a bowl using a fine wire strainer. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil to medium heat. After a few minutes, add the chile sauce. Be careful because it could boil and pop suddenly. If it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer. Add the cumin, oregano, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for 15 minutes or until the sauce thickens. If it’s too thick, add a little more water or broth. Taste for salt.
3. To build the “frijoles con veneno”, layer the refried beans in serving dish, top with a little chile sauce, all of chorizo and remaining chile sauce. Transfer to a preheated 350 degree F. oven for 25 minutes. Serve with warm tortillas or chips. Yields 6-8 appetizer servings.
Variation: To the layers, you could add some shredded chihuahua or jack cheese and prepared guacamole. It’s a nice surprise and treat to dig into a layer of guacamole when you least expect it.