Sunday January 6, 2013
Take away: Make your own stock. It is far and away better than canned.
Today I made red beans and rice which is one of our favorite meals. It’s traditionally prepared on New Year’s day but we were out of town so I did it a week late. This would be a twist on my tried and true recipe. I’d be using home made chicken stock and cooking in the pressure cooker rather than simmering in an open pot for 3 hours. The promise was I could cut cooking time down to 1 hour; 30 minutes at high pressure for the beans and 30 minutes simmering with the andouille.
I got a Fissler 8.5 quart pressure cooker for Christmas. (The 8.5 quart is out of stock everywhere today; the link is to the 6.5 quart version). Well, okay; it was close to Christmas and I went out and bought it after reading about why I need a pressure cooker in Cook’s Illustrated. My first job was to make some chicken stock from chicken wings and vegetables. Everywhere I’ve read about how much better home cooking can be if you use home-made broth. The first use of the broth would be this dish.
The prep takes a while for this dish; there is a lot of chopping. It has the Creole holy trinity of onion, celery and bell pepper. Other prep includes chopping bacon and parsley, crushing garlic; measuring out tons of spices. But worth it.
|Mis en place|
When I made the stock last week, I froze it in various size containers; I used 3 cups for this recipe
|Almost ready for cooking. Next step is to cover the beans with water|
Lock the lid in place, heat until the second white ring appears, turn heat way down and cook for 35 minutes.
|Everything is cooking. We know it’s at high pressure when the second white ring appears on the gauge to the left|
I was a bit trepidatious about cooking beans in a pressure cooker for a couple of reasons. First, I can’t monitor them as I’m used to doing. Second; it’s hard to judge how much liquid to use; probably not as much because it won’t boil off; okay, but how much less? Well, I added liquid until everything was covered. That was too much; they came out a bit more soupy than I like. Finally, this dish that usually cooks for 2 1/2 to 3 hours can be done in 30 minutes? No freaking way. So, I cooked under pressure for 35 minutes. Um, they didn’t need it; the ham shanks were fine and the beans were a bit too mushy. Next time, I’m going just 20 minutes.
While the beans cook, cut up the andouille.
|Dicing andouille into 1/4″chunks|
After releasing the pressure from the cooker, I added the andouille and simmered in an open cooker another 30 minutes. While that was cooking, I prepared some long grain rice.
|Long grain rice|
Simmering with the lid open evaporated some of the liquid. Usually, it’s too dry, so this was a nice change.
|Dinner is served|
The verdict? Oh My Goodness; cooking with home made stock really makes an improvement. The stock is so silky and rich (I took off all the fat when making it). I’m hooked; I’ll be making my own stock now. Maybe I’ll give it away for birthday and Christmas presents next year.
Adjustments to the recipe link above if using a pressure cooker. Just cover the beans with liquid and cook the beans under pressure for 20 minutes
Rating: ★★★★★ 5 out of 5 stars.