Saturday, September 11, 2010

Chipotle Beans

All righty. I'm still on a spicy kick. Tonight I went a little crazy. We had chicken mole, these beans, the spicy summer salad I posted before, and a version of guacamole that had chipotle peppers in it. The only thing that wasn't spicy was the rice.
Speaking of rice, I'm thinking that these beans mixed with some of the leftover rice would make a great lunch tomorrow.

Cooking dried beans up here at high altitude can be a bit challenging. Cooking it in a pot on the stovetop can take too long and require too much attention to make sure the water doesn't boil away. So if I've got a lot of time, I usually cook them in the crockpot.

If I'm time-challenged, the beans have to go into the pressure cooker. Today, I was time challenged. I didn't even have time for soaking - it was just sort, rinse, and cook.

If you're using a pressure cooker, make sure you check the proper timing for cooking beans in your particular cooker - they're not all the same. Undercooking isn't a big deal since you can finish on the stove or re-seal the pressure cooker and go for a few more minutes. But if you overcook, you'd better be planning on refried beans or bean soup.

When you're planning a meal that requires the pressure cooker, keep in mind that the timing starts when the cooker comes up to pressure. And then the top won't come off until the pressure is released. Depending on what sort of pressure cooker you have, that can be quick, or it can take a little longer.

I used an electric pressure cooker for these beans. The pressure doesn't come up as high as with my old stovetop model, but on the plus side, the timing is automatic. I tell it how long to cook and it starts timing when it gets up to pressure and it beeps when its done, so I can ignore it once the food is in. It's also faster to release pressure than my stovetop model. So the cooking can take a little longer, but I gain some time back because I don't have to wait as long to open the lid. It's not a big deal if it's opened at the end of cooking, but if I want to add ingredients in several stages, it's nice to be able to do it quickly.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, you can make this in a crockpot or on the stove. Just adjust the cooking time accordingly. And if you've got time to soak the beans, you can do that as well.

Chipotle Beans

1 pound dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
1 bay leaf
water, to cover by several inches
salt, to taste (I used about 1 teaspoon)
2-4 chipotle peppers, seeded and chopped
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped

Put the beans and bay leaf into your pressure cooker with enough water to cover by several inches. Cook on high for half the time necessary to cook the beans, according to the directions for your pressure cooker. For the one I used, it was 15 minutes.

Release the pressure, open the pressure cooker, and add the salt, peppers (along with some of the sauce from the can, if desired), onion, and green pepper. Make sure there's enough water to finish the cooking. Seal the pressure cooker and continue cooking until the beans are fully cooked.

Release the pressure, remove the bay leaf, drain, adjust seasoning if necessary, and serve.


Anonymous said...

Since you live at roughly 4985 Ft.above MSL, I'm really glad that are familiar with Pressure Cookers. In Phase-II (1962-1965)of learning to cook, this otherwise sea level boy lived at 4450 Ft. With my own and inherited P. Cookers, I have three of the old rattle-top models, including heavy, 4Qt, pre-war Aluminimum dude with a super thick (and FLAT)base that is ideal for browning. Replacement gaskets are still available and doneed to be replaced every few years. Despite the horror stories, I have never 'blown' a relief valve or made a mess. For the benefit of others, the older Pressure Cookers DO require some attention. THe oldies work so well that I've never been tempted to buy a modern, electric one.
You mentioned the slow pressure reduction. Surely you are familiar with the quick method: With the pressure regulator On and In Place, run the entire pot under stream of cold water until the pressure regulator drops and the safety release vavle also drops. This is one of three methods for safely dropping the pressure before opening the cooker. Since 1965 or so, I've been at <1000 Ft, currently about 640, and Pressure Cooking is not essential, just a habit and convenience. I've been known to use two at a time. At near sea level, some short cooking things are not worth the small extra trouble. Longer cooking veggies and meats are still often worth the saved time. Simple potatotes are the perfect example. Beans are also a common choice but so not overfill and add nothing beyond the beans. Some folks use P. Cookers for rice and pasta, but, I never have - and won't. They increase the risk of a blow out. If one can find a copy (or reporduction)the basic instruction booklets from the 30s-60s era include a wealth of good information and some truly excellent formulas.
Lastly, I have tried a few recipes including well pre-soaked beans in my crock pots over the years. For reasons unknown, the beans are never quite cooked enough, no matter how long I let it run. These days, if it is a Crock Pot method with beans (meaning soaked from dry, not canned) I'll either pre-cook the beans a bit in the P.C. or finish the entire dish in the P.C. In the end, the P.C. is a gift from Heaven, especially for those who are several thousand feet closer to the gates than most of us. A wonderful meal and a great post. Thanks, Donna.

Donna Currie said...

Hi Cedar -

When I use my stovetop model, I usually do the cold water method, but it still takes a bit of time to get the pressure down to where the second safety lock will disengage. With the electric one, I flip the switch to release the pressure and as soon as it stops spitting steam, the pressure is gone and the lid will disengage. Not only does it disengage faster, but I'm not cooling down the entire pot.

I've also noticed that with the water-cooling method it sometimes sucks cold water into the pot, which cools off and also dilutes whatever is in the pot. So with the electric model, if I'm adding ingredients and sealing it up again, it gets hot and back up to pressure a heck of a lot faster that the stovetop model could.

Not that I'm trying to sell you one, but it also has a slow-cook function and if the pressure or slow-cook time is up, it switches to a "keep warm" function so it stays at serving temp but doesn't overcook. It also has a "brown" function, so I can toss in my stew meat and let it brown before I set it for slow cook or pressure cooking.

There have been times I've started on slow cook and whatever it is hasn't been done on time, so I switch to pressure and give it a few more minutes. Or I go the other way. Start at pressure to get it going and the switch to slow cook at the end.

Unknown said...

Great recipe, and wonderful discussion I had never considered mixing pressure and slow cooking methods together!

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