This coming week looks like more rain for Southern California, which we need desperately, and with that comes chilly evenings. A warm pot of beans always seems to hit the spot this time of the year, especially right before the season begins to change. There’s something delightful in a bag of beans, now I’m beginning to sound like the story of Jack in the Beanstalk, with Jack and his magic beans. But, it’s true, a pound of beans can be turned into one delicious meal in no time at all, and an electric pressure cooker can really help in this transformation.
Pinto beans are a hardy bean and most of the time you see them made into refried beans, or cowboy beans, which are more Texas-style. I find these beans so full of flavor with a rich and earthy taste, especially with the right seasonings. Simple flavorings of onions and garlic are the classic additions, but with a bit of sliced jalapeno, some tomato paste, and a ham hock, these beans do become magically divine. A touch of smoky ham does change the bean game altogether because it adds another level of complexity and texture, that you wouldn’t get without it. What I love is how the ham just falls from the bone with a simple swipe of your spoon after an hour in the cooker. It makes life so easy, and it gives you so much.
I think these beans are great served in a big bowl with a side of bread or roll. There’s nothing else that matters with a delicious bowl of beans like these. The focus should be on the beans – no frills, no fancy presentation, just a darn good hardy bowl of beans with tons of flavor.
1 pound pinto beans, soaked overnight (or add 8 minutes to cooking time, if unsoaked)
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
1 smoked ham hock, or piece of bone-in ham
oil for cooking
salt & pepper
scallions for garnish, optional
- In a electric pressure cooker or large pot, add 2 teaspoons of oil and sauté onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add thyme, tomato paste, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stir. Cook for 1 minute and add chicken broth, stir.
- Add beans and ham hock. Place lid on top and cook on high pressure for 60 minutes, or simmer in pot on stove top for 2 1/2 hours. Let steam release naturally, about 25 minutes.
- Remove lid and stir. Scrape ham gently off bone and remove.
- Ladle into bowls and top with scallions, if desired. Enjoy!