How To Make Red Beans & Rice in an Electric Pressure Cooker

How To Make Red Beans & Rice in an Electric Pressure Cooker

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Pableaux Johnson
Feb 24, 2017
(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

"Red beans and rice on Monday" is one of the dependable workday cornerstones of New Orleans cuisine, a hearty dish rooted in the city's 300-year history. Originally an ingenious, low-maintenance way to feed a house on pre-machine laundry day, "red beans and rice" worked its way into classic status through the region's home, restaurant, and lunchroom menus.

As luck would have it, when I moved to New Orleans in 2001, I was looking for a way to feed a bunch of folks. A new transplant to the city, I had inherited my grandmother's kitchen table — a hulking, Formica-topped chunk of maple that served as one of the centers of our family's emotional universe. Two generations of my mama's family grew up around that table, so filling it once a week with clatter and food seemed like the right thing to do.

My Monday-Night Red Beans & Rice Tradition

I adapted the Monday-night red beans tradition and filled the table with an ever-changing group of pals, family, friends-of-friends, travelers, and other ne'er-do-wells. In 15 years, it's never been the same group twice, yet the conversations and energy help propel us through the week.

Simple food, simple rules — red beans and cornbread on the menu, come casual, bring whatchawannadrink, no phones at the table, whiskey for dessert — works every time on a typically odious Monday night. Everybody wants to eat hearty and drink wine after a day back at work. The magic is in the simplicity and the kismet of the big table.

After a while, visiting guests started asking for a version in their hometowns ("You wanna come up and do it at my place?"). Friends in the restaurant business (many of them chefs who worked in New Orleans or loved the city) volunteered their spaces, and the Red Beans Roadshow took to the road in 2015.

It's all focused on the same elemental ritual: good food, good conversation, and minimal distractions. It's a chance to share a laugh over a bowl of red beans and share a little bit of New Orleans before Tuesday morning rolls around.

Here's how to bring it to your home.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Choose the Right Beans

In such a simple dish, the right bean (and in this case, there is a correct choice) can make all the difference. For decades, New Orleans grandmothers consistently used dried kidney beans marked with a big red blossom — Camellia Brand — as their go-to brand.

"Camellias" inspire fierce loyalty among traditional New Orleans cooks because of their famously high standards (the Camellia family has an FDS "better than A" grade named after them), consistent flavor profile, and affordability. And because everybody buys them, store inventories cycle through frequently, eliminating the bane of the dried-bean cook — old, stale beans that never quite "cream out" and stay crunchy even after hours of cooking.

Find Camellia Kidney Beans Online

Camellia beans are available in select grocery stores, through online outlets like Amazon, or via the company's website.

Use Actual Honest-to-God Andouille Sausage

Although a meaty hambone is the traditional way to add porky goodness to the dish, I usually turn to andouille from Jacob's World Famous Andouille in Laplace, Louisiana, just outside New Orleans. Jacob's makes their distinctive andouille in the traditional style — chunks of pork shoulder simply spiced with salt, peppers, cayenne, and garlic and then smoked for hours over oak or pecan wood. This technique makes for an amazingly flavorful, chunky sausage that's like the spicy core of God's own Easter ham.

Pro tip: If you can only get mushy emulsified "andouille" from your local grocery, it's best to substitute a diced ham or an aggressive kielbasa. Most grocery store sausages are basically hot dogs with Cajun spices added.

(Image credit: Lauren Volo)

Add Some Cajun Spice

And speaking of "Cajun spices," just about every Louisiana cook uses a pre-mixed seasoning blend to build layers of flavor during the initial aromatic sauté of the "Holy Trinity" — onion, green bell pepper, celery — and garlic. There are tons of varieties of Louisiana/Cajun/Creole seasonings available in the modern grocery world, but my go-to has always been Tony Chachere's (pronounced SHASH-er-eez), a staple in most southern Louisiana home kitchens.

The Method: A Note from Kitchn

Pableaux cooks his red beans in a simple slow-simmering stovetop method, which is ideal for perfuming the house on a Monday evening. We've adapted it for faster cooking in an electric pressure cooker. Less romantic, perhaps, but the pressure cooker allows for enjoying this traditional New Orleans dish even on the most hurried Monday evenings.

How To Make Red Beans & Rice in an Electric Pressure Cooker

Serves 8 to 10

What You Need

Ingredients
3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
1 pound good smoked sausage, preferably andouille, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
2 medium onions, chopped
7 cloves garlic, minced
Creole seasoning, such as Tony Cachere's
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 medium rib celery, diced
1 medium green bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
Pinch dried sage
3 bay leaves
1 pound Camellia dried red beans
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Leaves of 1 bunch fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Crystal hot sauce
Cooked rice, for serving

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Chef's knife
Plate
Paper towels
Cutting board
Electric pressure cooker, Instant Pot, or Dutch oven

Instructions

Instructions for the electric pressure cooker or Instant Pot:

  1. Brown the sausage: Place the oil in the insert and turn on to the sauté setting. When the oil is shimmering, add the sausage and brown, stirring frequently, to render as much fat as possible. When well-browned, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease behind in the insert.
  2. Sauté the onions: Add onions to the insert and season with lots of Tony's, salt, and black pepper. Sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, celery, and bell pepper: Add the garlic and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook until translucent.
  4. Add the beans and sausage: Add the beans. Add enough water to cover, about 4 cups. Rub the basil between the palms of your hands as you add it to the pot. Add sage and bay leaves. Return the sausage to the insert and stir to combine.
  5. Seal and pressure-cook: Seal the pressure cooker. Set on HIGH pressure for 35 minutes. Now is a good time to cook the rice.
  6. Release the pressure: Allow the pressure cooker to release naturally (do not open the valve) — this should take 10 to 15 minutes. Uncover and test the beans for doneness; when pressed against the side of the insert they should mash readily. When the beans are tender, mash some with a potato masher until the mixture looks creamy. If the beans are underdone, return to high pressure for 3 minutes and repeat natural release as above.
  7. Season the beans: Stir in the scallions and almost all of the parsley, reserving some for garnish. Taste and season well with hot sauce.
  8. Serve over rice: Serve hot with cooked white rice, the remaining parsley, and more hot sauce.

Instructions for the Dutch oven/stovetop:

  1. Soak the beans: Pick through the beans and discard any shriveled beans. Rinse the beans in a colander. Place in a large bowl, cover with cold water, and soak for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Brown the sausage: Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the sausage and brown, stirring frequently, to render as much fat as possible. When well-browned, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the grease behind in the pot.
  3. Cook the onions, garlic, celery, and bell pepper: Add the onions to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, until well-browned, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the celery and bell pepper and cook until soft and translucent.
  4. Add the beans and sausage: Drain the beans and add to the pot. Add enough water to cover. Rub the basil between the palms of your hands as you add it to the pot. Add sage and bay leaves. Return the sausage to the pot and stir to combine.
  5. Simmer the beans until tender: Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. When the beans are tender, mash some with a potato masher until the mixture looks creamy.
  6. Season the beans: Stir in the scallions and almost all of the parsley, reserving some for garnish. Taste and season well with hot sauce.
  7. Serve over rice: Serve hot with cooked white rice, the remaining parsley, and more hot sauce.

Recipe Notes

  • Storage: Store leftover beans in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
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