Even though the temperatures are still a bit high it’s still time to start thinking about that first pot of ham and beans. In Northeast Missouri where I grew up we always had navy beans at school and home. Here in the Ozarks you find pinto beans more than the navy beans. Just a little closer to the south can find many subtle changes to recipes. What you’re going to find even more interesting is the fact that I’m cooking these beans in a pressure cooker! There are many advantages to using a pressure cooker instead of a crock pot, stove top or oven method.
First it’s all about speed. After soaking my dry beans overnight I place everything in the cooker and within 30-40 minutes I’ve got ham and beans. Following the recipe provided I think you’ll be pleased with the thickness of the recipe. Secondly by using the pressure cooker we’re saving lots of energy. There have been times when I cooked a pot of beans all day on top of the stovetop.
Many people have questioned the soaking process on beans. For years folks thought there was no point in doing anything special during the soaking. Now it’s a proven fact that the beans do absorb what they’re being soaked in. One of my pinto bean recipes features soaking the beans in beer overnight. Just make sure to drain and rinse the beans after the overnight soaking. I’ve never had mud and small stones in dry beans, but friends have told me otherwise.
What to serve with ham and beans? This is a simple one, cornbread of course.
Personally I would serve a cheese and relish tray along with the beans if I were entertaining. For dessert I’d reach for an apple cake, crumble, or pie. Entertaining doesn’t always have to be steaks on the grill. If we simplify it will make it conducive to inviting friends over more often. More often means more fun and fellowship, count me in!
There are a few things to review regarding beans in pressure cookers. If you are ever ‘under pressure’ and suddenly the ‘sizzle’ sound stops remove the cooker from the heat. It is very unlikely, but possible for the hull/skin of the bean to lift up in the steam and block the valve.
This week I’m planning a tailgater for homecoming. I’m grateful for a good deli to help with all the sandwiches. There are times when it just doesn’t pay to make them all myself. We’re bringing in chips, baked beans, fruit and brownies. Originally I had Ervin, my husband, helping with this project and then poof his hours were changed at work. Move to plan B!!
This week we wrapped up Southern Gospel at Silver Dollar City. One night a guest came in for the box suppers and asked if I could do a vegetarian sandwich? I paused a bit, checked the refrigerator and told the front crew we could manage something creative. I made zucchini fritters and then used them like a slider in the sandwich. For those who have my first cookbook you’ll find this recipe under ‘sides/vegetables’. I’m sharing this story to help everyone remember that you don’t have to have meat in every meal. Tuna burgers, vegie burgers, salmon burgers and my favorite ‘eggplant’ make wonderful alternatives.
Time for this cook to do a bit of prep for the week. Grandma and grandpa are due in on Sunday. Phillip can hardly wait for them to attend his football game Monday night. Enjoy the week, share the bounty. Simply yours, The Covered Dish. www.thecovereddish.com
Pinto Beans and Ham
1 1/2 lbs. dry pinto or navy beans
1/4 cup salt
1 pkg. (1 1/2 teaspoons) Herb Ox No salt chicken Bouillon
Or any low sodium bouillon of choice*
Cold water to cover beans
2 teaspoons bacon drippings or butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped fine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1 ham hock
1-2 cups chopped ham of choice
7-7 1/2 cups water
1 pkg. (1 1/2 tsps.) Herb ox no sodium chicken bouillon
Or any low sodium bouillon of choice*
*If you choose to use only low sodium bouillon consider decreasing salt to half of what is in the recipe for cooked beans.
Soak the beans the night before cooking in the 1/4 cup salt, bouillon packet and water to cover 3 inches above the beans. The next morning drain beans and monitor for small pieces of dirt or stones which may need to be removed. In a 6.4 quart pressure cooker place bacon drippings. Over medium heat sauté onion and gradually add carrot When onion is tender add salt, white pepper, cumin, ham hock, drained beans, chopped ham, and water with the chicken bouillon packet added.
Blend all ingredients in the cooker stirring gently. Set top of T-Fal cooker to level 2; seal lid and lock. Begin cooking over medium heat until pot begins to ‘sizzle.’ After about 30 seconds lower the temperature to medium low/low and cook for 30 minutes. Failure to lower the temperature will result in the liquid steaming out and possibly burning the beans. After 30 minutes of cooking time, turn the heat off and release from Level 2 to Level 1, and then to a total valve release. Remember to wait until the red lever drops on the T-Fal before opening the cooker.
Tip: When cooking beans in a pressure cooker stay within a close proximity to the pressure cooker. There is a remote chance that a skin/hull could block the valve. Should this ever occur while the pot is under pressure turn the heat off and remove the cooker from the heat source.