Pinto beans are easy whether in a dutch oven or pressure cooker. They are a good place to start for a beginning cook.
Most of my cooking is based on recipes I’ve discovered either from searching the interweb or my cooking magazines. My pinto beans are the exception; I’ve worked over the years to develop my very own recipe taking notes and making adjustments. Last year I settled on my go-to recipe using Big Blue, my dutch oven. You can find my original recipe here.
I got a pressure cooker last Christmas and have been amazed at how good things are and how quickly one can cook beans. So, I started re-working the recipe. Mike Vrobel of Dad Cooks Dinner fame is my go-to when I start cooking with the pressure cooker. One of the problems I’ve had adjusting recipes for the pressure cooker is figuring the amount of water to use. Mike’s Vrobel likes his beans a bit wetter than I do. I’ve made a couple of attempts but my early results were no more than 2-star efforts.
Then I had great success with Cuban black beans and rice a week or so earlier based on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. So, I adapted what I learned there to my pinto bean recipe. The big change was replacing the pork hock with salt pork. I also cut the liquid in half, from 2 quarts to 1 with equal amounts chicken stock and water. These were much better; maybe a tad dry; next time I’ll use 2 cups stock and 3 cups water (or vice versa depending on how I feel at the moment). One thing to be aware of with this recipe; don’t use a lot of salt, the salt pork has plenty. I added some to the simmering stage and they were on the edge of too salty.
One great thing about cooking the beans in the pressure cooker is you don’t have to sit around for 2 or 3 hours waiting for the beans to finish on the stove. This recipe goes from start start to finish in just a little over an hour (of course you need to soak the beans overnight). My current recipe can be found here; I’ll update it as I improve the recipe.
[Note: May 25, 2018. True to my word, I updated the recipe to my current best/favorite method of cooking pinto beans in a pressure cooker. Since this was written, I’ve swtiched to using and electric pressure cooker.]
|A small number of ingredients. The spices are cumin and chili powder|
Sauté the salt pork on medium for about 10 minutes. Don’t cook at a higher temp or you might burn the tasty bits.
|Sauté the salt pork|
Pour off and reserve all but 2 Tablespoons of the pork fat. Sauté the onions for 8-10 minutes until softened and translucent. At the end add the crushed garlic and spices for about a minute, until they become fragrant.
|Sauté the onions.|
Add the beans, stock, water, whole garlic cloves, 1/2 an onion. If you wish, add the reserved pork fat (I do).
Bring to high pressure and cook for 15 minutes. Quickly release the pressure and fish out the onion, whole garlic cloves and bay leaves.
|Ready for serving|
I took this batch over next store for a picnic dinner party. I received lots of compliments and quite a few folks went back for seconds.