These creamy New Orleans’ white beans are cooked in the traditional spicy style, only fat-free, vegan, and healthy.
Come on, tell me you’re tired of rich holiday food and are ready to settle down to some healthy–even homely–fare. I know I am. I never thought there could be such a thing as too much dessert, but after stuffing myself on pumpkin cheesecake, cherry-chocolate mousse pie, and the downright obscene rum- and margarine-soaked bread pudding that’s my husband’s specialty, I’m ready to swear off of sugar for a year while. I don’t know about you, but I hate the sluggish way I feel whenever I’m overeating on foods that have too much fat and sugar. So today I bring you a change from all the eye-candy (and actual candy) that you’ve probably been seeing on other blogs: New Orleans’ white beans and rice.
There are several tricks I could have employed to make this traditional Louisiana dish more photogenic, but then you wouldn’t have a real idea of how it’s supposed to look. In particular, I could have cooked the beans for less time to leave them intact, but intact beans are exactly what you don’t want when making New Orleans’ white beans (sometimes referred to as cream-style beans). You want some of the beans to hold together just enough so that they’re recognizable as beans but others to fall apart enough to create a thick, creamy sauce around the recognizable beans. It’s a delicate balance that in bygone days took hours of simmering on the stove, but thanks to a couple of my favorite kitchen tools, the pressure cooker and the immersion blender, I can make creamy, flavorful beans in about an hour. And so can you!
Now, get out that new pressure cooker you got for Christmas and cook some beans! (Regular stove-top pot instruction are at the end of the recipe.)
New Orleans' Style White Beans
- 1 pound great northern beans dried
- 1 medium onion
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 small green bell pepper
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or gluten-free tamari)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon Tabasco or to taste
- hickory smoked salt optional, but good, to taste
- Soak the beans overnight. (Or do a quick-soak by putting them into the pressure cooker with enough water to cover them by three inches. Bring to high pressure and cook for 1 minute. Allow pressure to come down naturally before opening the cooker.)
- Drain the soaking liquid. Put the beans into the pressure cooker with 5 cups water and start heating, uncovered (use the Saute or Brown setting on electric cookers).
- Meanwhile, chop all vegetables fine, by hand or in a food processor. As you chop each one, add it to the pressure cooker. Add remaining ingredients except Tabasco and hickory smoked salt. Check water level in cooker and add another cup if there isn’t sufficient water to cover all ingredients by 1 inch.
- Seal the pressure cooker and set the timer for 12 minutes (electric) or bring to high pressure and cook for 12 minutes once pressure is reached. Remove from heat (or turn off electric cooker) and allow pressure to come down naturally.
- If pressure is not down in 20 minutes, quick-release the pressure. Check beans for doneness. They should be tender, and most should be starting to fall apart. If your beans are still tough, return them to high pressure for a few minutes. If beans are tender, add Tabasco and smoked salt and cook uncovered until liquid reduces and the cooking water starts to become more like a sauce.(Use the Saute or Brown function in electric cookers, on low, if possible.) Stir often to make sure they are not burning on the bottom and to incorporate any dried beans on the sides of the pot. After about 20 minutes, if the liquid still seems watery rather than creamy, you can take an immersion blender and blend part of the beans (be sure to remove bay leaves first).
- Add additional salt to taste. Serve over hot rice with hot sauce on the table.
To cook it without a pressure cooker, follow all directions, adding enough water to cover beans by an inch, cover, and cook on low until beans are beginning to break down and the water has become a sauce, at least 2 hours. Stir periodically and add more water as needed (may require several more cups).
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