Thursday, January 7, 2010

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit-- Red Beans & Rice, My Way


So... since August, every foodie magazine has front covers with all kinds of fattening food & desserts. January rolls around and it's a whole new picture! Low-fat this, Diet That.... Food Blogosphere is chock full of "healthy recipes".   Does that mean that now isn't the time to post my puff pastry, butter-ridden, sinfully good Christmas Evedinner recipe?  Fine. I'll wait. Valentine's Day is just around the corner!  Okay, I admit it-- I over-indulged with the rest of you.  I've been cooking healthy! Honest! I made a gorgeous pot of vegetable minestrone soup. Did I photograph it? No!   Just this weekend, I had a craving for beans.  The Latina side of my genetics loves beans, just as the German side of my DNA adores potatoes.  I make a pretty tasty batch of refried beans, if I do say so myself.   Since I cook meatless at least once a week, I stock up on Trader Joe's black beans. We love them.  My cravings were being very fussy, though-- I wanted Red Beans & Rice and had not soaked any beans overnight! No problemo! I love my Digital Pressure Cooker.

A quick soak is easy peasy to do.   There's a debate, I've read, whether or not to salt beans before or after cooking them.  I always salt them at the time I cook them, and it works great for me.   You can easily do all of this on a stovetop.   I keep preaching that, once you realize that pressure cookers do not explode (they're much fancier nowadays) you will fall in-love with pressure cooking. I promise you that!  I covered the beans with water, and two teaspoons of kosher salt--closed the lid and turned the digital timer to "two minutes".  A quickie lesson on pressure cooking-- once the trapped heat/steam builds up inside (because of the tight seal of the gasket and lid) the pressure cooker cooks for 2 minutes.  Essentially, it took about 15 minutes for all of this to happen.  I simply press the large button, to release the steam and let the beans sit for up to 1/2 hour.  I drained the beans and now, it's time to get the aromatics going--

Garlic! I used two big cloves of garlic and 2 small onions, chopped.  My digital pressure cooker has a "brown" feature-- love it! So I added a little olive oil, and cooked the onion until tender...then I added the garlic.  Now, what kind of spices should I use?  I looked at "Creole Seasoning" at the supermarket, but I didn't like the preservatives and M.S.G. in them.  I figured I could make my own seasoning, since I hoard spices anyway.

So, here they are-- dried oregano, paprika, cayenne pepper, Lawry's Seasoned salt, dried basil & celery salt. I liked to "bloom" my spices by cooking them for a couple of minutes. I really think it packs more flavor.

I also added about one tablespoon of tomato paste, which I cooked for 1 minute longer...

I added about a quart of water to the pot, the quick soaked beans and some smoked ham that I had diced, and two bay leaves.  (Many recipes use sausage, but this ham was leaner.) I added just enough water to cover everything by no more than an inch.  I turned the digital timer on to 25 minutes of pressure cooking. Stovetop, I'd guess you'd want to cook these for at least 90 minutes.  So.... don't you think pressure cooking is a "microwave slow cooker"?!

More traditional pressure cookers require that you pour cold water on the lid, so that you can release the steam.  My version has a button that I press.  My cats scatter when I do this! (It does get a little loud.)

Done!  The only thing that I wanted to adjust was the thinness of the beans. Granted, cooking beans on a stovetop for a long period of time does thicken liquid-- but that did not deter me. I thought about it, and...

Using a slotted spoon, I removed the beans from the liquid; then, I decided to drain the beans to remove all of the liquid.  I whisked cornstarch and water and used it to thicken the liquid.  Perfect!

Then, I returned the thickened liquid to the beans...

I tasted the beans and I did my "Happy Dance". I've been to New Orleans a few times, and I love to order red beans-- followed by beignets at the Cafe du Monde.  I might not have true Southern roots, but I think I nailed it!

All I had left to do was to fluff the brown rice...


All you need is to add extra hot sauce, if you want more heat to this!

This is healthy, I tell you!  All that fiber...brown rice...  I ate two bowls of this, without any guilt and it really makes you feel full for a long time. ( I made sure that my husband ate two bowls so we could make music together.)  Detox or toxic? Hmmm.... I guess this isn't totally "meatless", because there's ham in here. Are you ready to buy a pressure cooker? I bought this model on QVC, about ten years ago. It's made by Cook's Essentials.

I've got some great recipes to post, but they aren't exactly "diet food".  I figure that the non-diet, detox recipes should be slowing down in another week or so?  In the meantime, I'm making meatless dinners, more fish and cutting back on red meat-- just like most of you! How's it going?

(Now, I'm totally craving beignets. Great...)







Pin It

22 comments:

Donna-FFW said...

I think you totally nailed it too!! It looks perfect, like it walked off a magazine page. I can almost smell them, so good Debby.

On another note, I have had trouble accessing the PWfan site.. when is the next entry due?

Carla and Michael said...

I love red beans and rice. Nice idea to "lighten" it up with the ham, as I have always done the sausage version. Also love your digital pressure cooker, as I am still using the stovetop version. Didn't know they had so many features. I will have to look into one now.
Thanks,Carla

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Red beans and rice are one of our favorites and we always include some ham or kielbasa in it. Yours sounds delicious. I like to use brown rice too. We're trying to eat healthy too. Lots of seafood for us.
Sam

TKW said...

Oh dear, now I've decided that I NEED a digital pressure cooker!!

I lived on red beans and rice when I was single and on a starter teacher's salary! I will always have such a fondness for them as a result; they remind me of that time of my life, struggling but hopeful, proud of myself for being on my own.

Muneeba said...

The musical fruit, tee heeeeee .. I like that ;) I love the combo of beans and rice; it's definitely on my own comfort food list. Your pics are gorgeous, as always Deb!

Kim said...

Red beans and rice is one of those dishes that has you forgetting that you're eating healthy. It looks delicious!

George Gaston said...

Debby, I am going to get you for putting that little song in my head! Now I will be singing it all day along and that is not something my neighbors will enjoy.

Great recipe though, so I'll let it slide this time.

Chiara "Kika" Assi said...

Ohhhh... your post made me realize two things:
1- I want bean soup!
2- I want a pressure cooker!!!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

That looks wonderful (and healthy!) You are really tempting me with that digital pressure cooker ...

Cristie said...

I have got to learn how to use a pressure cooker. I didn't even know about a digital one- thanks for the info and great lesson. The beans and rice look fantastic!

lorna sass said...

I'm thrilled that you're spreading the word about pressure cooking! You'll find lots of info and recipes at www.pressurecookingwithlornasass.wordpress.com Happy cooking! Lorna

PCD (Pretty Circle Drawer) said...

hi there! i'm a newbie and this looks soooooo good. i would love to try this, but i don't have a pressure cooker and won't be getting one anytime soon. do you think this recipe could come out as lovely and delicious looking/tasting without a PC?

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Yes, this recipe can easily be done without a pressure cooker! Just plan on waiting longer for it to be ready. Stovetop, I cook my beans low and slow.

Mary said...

These look really wonderful. They are picture perfect. Another great one!

Cathy said...

I'm going to have to get more info on the pressure cooker. It sound like a very handy appliance to have, and what a time saver. The one my mother used years ago was a little scary.

My kids used to sing that little ditty over and over...and over. It's funny now.

Riley Adams/Elizabeth Craig said...

Great looking recipe! And your pictures were good enough to eat. I love the way you thickened up that sauce--I think I would have just sighed over the consistency and served it. But you took it a step farther and the results really made the dish!

Riley/Elizabeth
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen
Mystery Writing is Murder

Pam said...

I could eat a big bowl of that and be completely satisfied - it looks terrific.

Debinhawaii said...

I love red beans and rice and your version looks wonderful--great healthy comfort food!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Thanks so much for giving us a tour of the electric pressure cooker. That is something I want to get this year. Wow, so many months til my b-day too... I was looking at the cuisinart electric one, now I will have to see if it has a brown feature. We don't tend to have as much selection up here.
Great dish!

Me! said...

post the puff pastry goodness!! i'm looking for something new that isn't 'diet' or 'healthy'!!!!!

Marguerite said...

I definitely think you nailed it, too! And that's coming from a Cajun, cher! Fabulous version of this New Orleans classic. My Mom had a pressure cooker and I think that I need to get a digital one, too. Love the ham and the brown rice and the way that you thickened up the gravy. Fabulous job!

Ally said...

This looks delicious! I used to think I hated red beans and rice but it turned out the first time I had it, it was not cooked well. I tried it again a few years later at a restaurant and love it!

Happy New Year, Ally