Saturday, 18 September 2010

Beans in the Pressure Cooker

I have a funny relationship with beans. I love SPC cans of baked beans but I have issues with the texture of other beans. I'm a very textural eater, sometimes I can even love the flavour of something but I can't get over the texture and won't eat it. Mushrooms are a classic example.

As I said, I love canned baked beans. One of my friends lives near a cafe where they make their own baked beans and she says that they are amazing. We've meant to go and try them ourselves but never seem to get there. I have never really thought about making my own baked beans until I read about Not Quite Nigella's Bean Cassoulet in the pressure cooker.

NQN tickled my fancy by describing her beans as rich as rich can be and saying that serving with bread was mandatory. Who could resist?

I was very excited as I gathered my ingredients together, but I came back down to Earth when I came across a problem. Everywhere I looked ham hocks or bacon hocks were incredibly expensive. Seriously expensive. Like $13 per kilo expensive, making each hock $11-12. I complained to my mother, who did not make things better when she told me that she had just purchased a bacon hock for $4. I did get quite pouty for a while there. I may have been able to understand if the hocks were particularly meaty, but these were not.

Anyway, after my tantrum I still wanted to make these beans. I shopped around and bought the cheapest I could find, a smoked bacon hock from Woolworths for $9 (to be fair, this one was small but quite meaty). To add insult to the injury, about two weeks later D found ham hocks at IGA for $6 per kg. Typical.

I chose to use canned beans, so when it came to cooking all I had to do was put all of the ingredients, sans beans, into the pressure cooker and turn it on. After a mere 45 minutes, you have this smoky rich bacon-y sauce. It smelled amazing and the meat that fell off the hock was so tender and tasty.

Unfortunately, although I loved the sauce and the bacon I couldn't get over the texture of the beans. I don't remember which beans I used - I think they were cannellini - but maybe my bean choice wasn't the best. NQN suggested adding a good quality sausage to the beans to make it more like a cassoulet, I might just make this again with sausages because the sauce is incredible.

If you don't have the same aversion to beany textures as I do, head on over to Not Quite Nigella and try her Kick Ass Beans yourself.


  1. So glad that you liked the sauce, isn't it delicious! And what a shame about the hocks, they're usually very cheap whenever I see them because, as you said, they're not very meaty! :)

  2. Thanks for the recipe NQN. I can't wait to make it again, especially now ham hocks are everywhere!