Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans in Tex-Mex Broth
I consider beans an essential side dish for Tex-Mex meals. Give me some tortillas, some salsa, and a bowl of brothy beans, and I’m a happy guy.
While there’s nothing wrong with plain beans, seasoned with a little salt, I like to boost the flavor with some aromatics, spices, and…bacon. This is a cowboy cooking* inspired version of beans, from the north of Mexico and south of Texas, where pinto beans are the local bean of choice, and culinary ideas have been crossing the border for years. It’s a little more south of the border, more Caballero than Cowboy, but what it really is nowadays is the perfect example of a Tex-Mex dish using the best of both worlds.
*Cue Blazing Saddles clip…”How ’bout some more beans, boss?” “I’d say you’ve had enough!” My inner 13 year old giggles every time I think about it.
I’m using a “brine the beans while soaking” technique I learned from Cooks Illustrated. I sort and soak the beans the night before, or first thing in the morning; by the time I come home from work they’re ready to go, and the soaking cuts the cooking time down dramatically. By soaking the beans, I can have my brothy, earthy side dish in right around a half an hour.
Recipe: Pressure Cooker Pinto Beans in Tex-Mex Broth
Adapted From: Robb Walsh The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook
- 6 quart or larger Pressure Cooker (I love my Instant Pot.)
- Vegetarian beans: Skip the bacon, and substitute 2 tbsp vegetable oil, and use vegetable oil instead of the lard.
- Use make-ahead beans: If you followed my earlier advice and made extra beans for the freezer, you can use those instead of cooking a new batch. Instead of pressure cooking the beans, cook everything in a large pot. Saute the aromatics, then add 4 cups of made ahead beans. The broth from the beans should be enough liquid, but if necessary, add water to come up to just below the surface of the beans. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and simmer for ten to fifteen minutes to let the flavors mingle.
- Use canned beans: Don’t even have some make ahead beans? That’s OK – use canned. Drain and rinse two 15 oz cans of black beans. Cook as above in the “make ahead beans” section, but when you add the beans also add water (or chicken stock, if you have it) to just below the surface of the beans.
- Don’t have make-ahead beans, but want to make some for next time? I double the bean side of the recipe, and cook two pounds of beans. When I’m done, I remove four cups worth of beans from the pot, put them in freezer-safe containers, and freeze them for later.
- If you don’t want to soak the beans, or you forgot (like I do all the time), do the following. Sort and rinse the beans, put them in the pot with 7 cups of water, and increase the time under high pressure to 40 minutes (30 with natural pressure release).
Robb Walsh The Tex-Mex Grill and Backyard Barbacoa Cookbook
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