Sunday, August 31, 2008

Red Beans and Rice - Pressure Cooker Style!

If any of you know my husband...and I mean REALLY know my husband, you know he LOVES Red Beans and Rice. He makes it at least once a month. Every time he makes it there is some type of variation from seasonings to the type of sausage. Last night as I was cooking up the Martha Stewart Mac and Cheese he was chopping up peppers and veggies for the Red Beans and Rice. I always get a little nervous when he starts up with the Red Beans and Rice because when it rocks, IT ROCKS!!!! But when it doesn' doesn't; in a big, bad way.
Alex is all about beans from the bag, not the can, the bag. That means soaking overnight and cooking all day in a crock pot. Sometimes some of the beans are soft and fabulous while others are NOT al dente and other times they are ALL not al dente...those are the bad nights. Today was a busy day for Alex and I and we forgot to soak the beans. CRAP!

Thank goodness for pressure cookers. I have to admit, I have ONLY EVER used my pressure cooker for potatoes. When I bought the thing it came with three cook books and I was surprised to find you can cook meat, beans AND CHEESECAKE, of all things, in a pressure cooker. SERIOUSLY!!!!! Off to the pressure cooker cookbook we went.
We didn't use the recipe for the Red Beans and Rice in the pressure cooker cookbook, we just stole their idea for cooking the beans. Here is the game plan we used:

Alex's Red Beans and Rice...well, Red Beans...not Rice (More on that later):
1 16 oz package of dried red beans
2 stalks celery
2 carrots
1 roasted green pepper - this is from our grilling escaped earlier in the week
1 red jalapeno pepper - it is red and looks like a that is what I'm calling it.
2 green jalapeno peppers
1 onion
various Cajun spices...pick your favorite + bay leaf & fresh parsley
1/2 bottle of beer
Sausage of your choice

Alex chopped up all the veggies the night before and marinated them in 1/2 bottle of beer (I'm not sure what you would use in place of the 1/2 bottle of beer if you aren't a maybe you should just crack down, buy a bottle of beer and use the other half of the bottle for killing snails in your yard.)

Cooking the beans: I am fortunate enough to have a Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Pressure Cooker (Alex bought if for my birthday our first year dating) that comes with a cookbook/user guide called, Quick Cuisine - Delicious recipes for your Duromatic Pressure Cooker. This is what it told me about pressure cooking beans: It suggests you soak your beans overnight...why would I do that when I have a pressure cooker?
Quick Soak: for each cup of sorted, rinsed beans, place 4 cups water and 1 teaspoon salt into the pressure cooker. The book also suggests added some oil to the water to keep the foaming down. Add the beans and bring to a boil. Lock the lid in place and bring pressure to the second red ring over high heat. Reduce heat to maintain pressure at the second red ring and cook 2 minutes. Release pressure and remove the lid. Drain beans and cook as directed in the recipe.
To the 'Cajun Red Beans & Rice' recipe in the book:In a 4-quart or larger pressure cooker, add soaked, drained beans, 4 cups water (because we are using the whole bag of beans), and cut up veggies marinating in beer.

Allow ingredients to come to a boil, stirring often. Close lid and bring pressure to second red ring over high heat. Adjust heat to stabilize pressure at second red ring. Cook for 10 minutes.In the mean time, Alex cut up and browned some fabulous Cajun sausage we found at Costco.
Remove pressure cooker from heat (after the 10 minutes) and use natural release method. We just push down on our button at the top with the two red lines and this releases the pressure.

Add sausage to bean mixture. Close lid and bring pressure to second red ring over high heat. Adjust heat to stabilize pressure at second red ring. Cook for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and use natural release method.

The other conundrum I run into with Alex's Red Beans and Rice is the rice. He uses regular, plain, old minute rice. Hmmmm...boring. Not bad, just boring. Tonight, I took matters into my own hands.

A couple of months ago I took a business trip down to New Orleans...yes, life is tough when you have to do business in New Orleans. I scored a cute little Cajun book called "Talk About Good!" at a book store called, A Tisket, A Tasket in the French Quarter. How can you go wrong with a name like that?

Rice Casserole II:
1 stick of butter or margarine
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 tsp summer savory - I didn't have this and it still ROCKED!
3 beef (I used chicken) bouillon cubes
3 cups boiling water
4 oz. can chopped mushrooms - Alex hates mushrooms and I am adverse to canned mushrooms so I left these out.
1 small can Parmesan cheese - I don't do canned Parmesan cheese so I grated one cup
2 cups minutes rice (raw)Melt butter, add onion, garlic, rice and savory - saute. Melt bouillon cubes in the boiling water, add to rice, cheese and mushrooms. Put in baking dish, cover and bake 30 minutes at 350 F.

Lesson learned from today's post? GO BUY A PRESSURE COOKER!!!!

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