Pressure cookers are one of those appliances you either have and use all the time or really have no clue about. I, for one, used to be in the later category. I had been given one a long time ago and although I always heard about how indispensable a pressure cooker can be -- especially for cooking foods like meats and beans quickly with tender, succulent results -- I always came up with endless excuses to avoid figuring out how to use mine. I found my pressure cooker so totally intimidating in fact, that it sat untouched in my closet for years before being gifted to a friend.
What finally convinced me to change my stubborn ways were beans. For whatever reason, anytime I tasted super creamy beans and inquired as to how they had been prepared, the answer was always: in a pressure cooker. So when an appliance company sent me a new pressure cooker to test out two years ago, I was determined to make the most of it. I started, of course, with beans.
Chloe is an obsessive bean eater, but with the requisite eight-plus hours of soaking and simmering to make most beans fresh, cooking them used to be a real challenge for me. The pressure cooker did away with all that. My friend Nilva grew up using a pressure cooker daily, and she gave me a crash course in how to use one. Much to my surprise, it couldn't have been easier. I just dumped in all of my ingredients, locked the lid, and 40 minutes later, with a whistle as loud as a freight train and a beautiful geyser of steam billowing from the spout, my beans were done and tasted as superior as the best ones I had ever had.
Improvising off of a black bean recipe my husband started using to make black beans in the pressure cooker for the kids, came up with this simple pinto bean recipe. You can almost always find it in abundance in our refrigerator. It has become one of my daughter's comfort foods and the pressure cooker I once feared has become a treasured kitchen tool of mine for effortless, quick meals.