I’m going to share an easy and satisfying recipe that I threw together yesterday. It doesn’t have a name, and I didn’t get it from any recipe book. I’ve been experimenting with this very useful Instant Pot pressure cooker lately, and thought readers might want to hear about this. If you don’t have one of these, you should consider getting one. Even if you don’t have one, you can make this recipe on the stove in a pot, although the preparation time will be longer. It’s very easy, and you can substitute different ingredients, or add additional ingredients. It’s all up to you.
Ingredients (vary these according to your taste):
4 or 5 dried ancho chilies
2 or 3 cascavel chilies
4 or 5 slices of smoked pork jowl (or salt port, or bacon, or beef tongue, etc.)
2 cups (or more or less) of dry pinto beans
Salt to taste
1. Cut up the slices of smoked pork jowl into small pieces. What is pork jowl? Here is what it looks like:
You can buy this, or something like it, in most supermarkets. Look around. Hispanic food stores are a great place to try, too. If you can’t find it, you can easily substitute salt pork, or even thick-cut bacon. I just like the flavor that the smoked jowl adds. It also has the advantage of being inexpensive. Experiment, and do what works for you.
Fry the pieces of pork in the bottom of the Insta-Pot vessel until they render liquid fat, and are crunchy like cracklings. If you don’t have an Insta-Pot, use a large pot on the stove and fry the pork cracklings. Take them out and set them aside. I’ve found another great way to cook these kinds of pork products is the microwave. You just put them in a microwave dish, and the fat easily cooks off. No smoke, no burning.
2. Rinse the pinto beans in cold water to remove any impurities, and then put them in the Insta-Pot. I don’t soak them beforehand, as some people do. (If you do, you will of course reduce the cooking time). Add a few teaspoons of the rendered pork fat for flavor, and then add twice as much water as you have beans. Cut up the ancho chilies and the cascavel chilies, and add them, along with the powdered spices and a bit of salt. Add whatever other spices you want, too. An easy way to cut up dried chilies is by using a kitchen shears. Very fast, very easy. Cut them up right over the pot, if you want to.
3. Cook everything in the Insta-Pot for around 30 minutes on high pressure. This is what is so great about the Insta-Pot. You can just set the time, walk away from it, and do something else. If you are cooking on the stove, you’re going to have to modify things a bit. You’ll want to cook the pinto beans alone, without the other ingredients, until they are tender. Towards the end of their cooking time, you can add the other ingredients. (The idea is not to overcook all the other ingredients; cooking dry beans on the stove can take a long time).
4. The final dish looks like this. You can garnish with parsley or anything else you want. This dish can be eaten as a main course, or even as a side dish for a good piece of meat.
As with any recipe, you should experiment to find out what produces the best results for you. Try different things. Add hotter chilies. Add different spices. Add or substitute different kinds of meats.
Take a look at the newly-published Digest: