Saturday, October 18, 2008

Refried Beans - My way

As stated previously on this blog, I love Mexican food. So does the rest of my family. And a staple of any good Mexican meal is beans. Now, I like two types of beans in Mexican cuisine the best: the black and the pinto beans. I remember that month I spent in Mexico City in the kitchen of one of my friend's aunts and having "refried" black beans with my eggs for breakfast. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them! So if you haven't tried them, I suggest you do!

Black beans (photo from

I use the pressure cooker to make all of my beans now. This means I save cost by using dried beans as opposed to canned beans. Now, canned beans are very cost effective too. However, many times they have a lot of salt added and then there is that canning liquid that I almost always like to wash off. So all in all, I think dried beans are the way to go. Here's what I do for all the beans I cook.

Pinto beans (photo from

First, I wash them off in a colander. As stated on most packages of dried beans, they are from an agricultural process and bits of foreign matter are not unlikely so this is an important step. Then I throw in them in the pressure cooker and add water until they are covered by about an inch. I let them soak for about 4 hours. I've found this to be a decent amount of time. After they have soaked (not a neccessary step but it does improve the final texture I've found), I drain the beans and return them to the pressure cooker pot.

Now, Lorna Sass has great charts in her book Pressure Perfect
that contain information on the ratio of liquid to bean and cooking times. Cooking time will vary from bean to bean. (Lima beans only take 7 minutes!) To the drained beans I add, 2 cloves garlic, 2 bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 Tablespoon chicken base, the called for water and 1 Tablespoon oil. The oil is very important as it inhibits foaming. Then, I fit the top to the pressure cooker onto the pot. Bring to pressure under high heat. All cookers have different signals of when pressure is reached and when to begin timing. Mine has an indicator rod that comes up that lets me know high pressure has been reached, and I begin timing when steam comes out of the release valve. When this happens I turn the heat down to just maintain this steam and begin the timer. So for black beans it takes 18 minutes under high pressure and pintos take a bit longer at 21 minutes. Then, I let the pressure naturally release, meaning - just let it sit there until the pressure indicator rod is no longer up. This can take just as long as the cooking time but it really depends on how much you made. More equals a longer pressure release time is how it goes.

I like to take some of the liquid out as I do not like my beans to be too soupy and I also remove the bay leaves. Then I take another gadget which I LOVE, the immersion blender, and make quick work. You can leave the beans at any stage of puree that you want. For the black beans, I sometimes add the juice of one lime and a teaspoon of cumin and a dash of cayenne to kick it up a notch as one famous chef would say. Serve and enjoy!

Always make extras, they can be frozen for several months in the freezer. You don't even have to blend all of the beans. The beans can be frozen in whole form and thrown in chilis and soups and quesadillas and so on....


Hawkins said...

I found your blog because of your latest post, but I love the detail you've added to this one on how to cook beans in your pressure cooker.

Now that the cooler weather is here I'm ready to cook up some black beans and rice (twist on the "standard" red beans and rice), and will try the pressure cooker for the beans this time.

Thanks for the tips!

elle pee said...

Let's see more pressure cooker recipes!!!


making pressure cookers hip again, one recipe at a time!!