I like to include one or two meatless recipes in each week's menu to make our grocery budget stretch a little further.
The simplest, most classic of these is a pot of pinto beans and a pan of cornbread.
Those two items can be a meal all in themselves, but they also open up the possibility for all sorts of add-ons: mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, greens, squash, or ham (in the beans) are some of my favorites. And a pot of beans is always good with barbecue, fried fish, or chili.
Thankfully, making pinto beans is not a huge undertaking, and only takes an hour, no soaking required! How, you say? I make them the way my Mama taught me, the way her mama taught her - in a pressure cooker!
For 1 pound of pintos:
Sort and rinse beans.
Heat approximately 2 1/2 quarts of water in pressure cooker, uncovered.
Place beans in a second pot, and cover with a couple inches of water. Bring to boil and allow beans to boil for 5 minutes. During this time, bring the water in the pressure cooker to a boil also.
Drain beans into a colander, discarding the dark "poot water". (Well what would you call it?) Immediately add beans to the boiling pressure cooker pot and simmer over medium-high heat, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
Add 1-2 Tbs sugar and 1-2 Tb of oil to beans. (Also good: black pepper, sliced onion, sliced jalapeno, and/or cooked ham.) Place lid and 'jiggler' on cooker, according to manufacturer's directions.
Once pressure is up and the 'jiggler' is spitting and hissing and jiggling, allow beans to cook for another 25 minutes. (This is a good time to make your cornbread.) Remove cooker from heat and allow it to cool for a few minutes. DO NOT REMOVE 'jiggler' yet!!!
I speed up the cooling process (and slow down the cooking process) by placing the cooker in the sink and running cool water over the lid. You can gently poke the jiggler to tip it - if no steam hisses you are probably good to to ahead and remove the lid. Be careful!!!
Add salt to taste.