A few weeks ago, I purchased a pressure cooker. With the colder months around the corner, the thought of making homemade stocks for winter soups had my mind spinning with ideas. But all those ideas unfortunately came to halt when I realized exactly how many hours I would have multiple gallons of liquid sitting at a simmer on my meager stove. Having not yet found that particular tree on which dollar bills blossom forth, my plans were set back until I could find a quicker and more energy efficient method of simmering. Enter the pressure cooker. What would normally take 6-8 hours on the stove can be accomplished in under one hour in a pressure cooker. You can read all about pressure cookers and their benefits here.
In addition to stocks, I also began to get excited about soaking my own beans. During the fall and winter months, I tend to gravitate towards a bowl full of legumes after I get home from work. They are the perfect winter food. So, to test out my new-fangled pressure cooker, I started soaking some navy beans.
Navy beans need to be soaked for at least four hours prior to cooking. It is very important to not add any salt during the soaking or cooking process. While we are leaving salt out, let's leave out anything acidic as well (wine, vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes, etc.). They can all be added in after cooking. Once the beans are soaked, they only take 12-13 minutes in the pressure cooker, compared to between 1 and 1 1/2 hours on the stove.
1 hake steak, free of pin bones
1 quart chicken stock
1 lbs dried navy beans (can substitute cannellini beans or flageolet)
3 sprigs fresh oregano + 1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 shallot, finely chopped
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, soak beans in several quarts of water. Remember that the beans will double, even triple in size. Make sure you have enough water. Soak for at least four hours, changing the water halfway through. Drain beans and add to the pressure cooker, along with the stock, sprigs of oregano, and shallot. Once the cooker is brought up to full pressure, cook for 13 minutes. Consult your manual before using your pressure cooker!
When time is up, release pressure through the pressure release valve. Stand back as to not get burned by the steam. Take a few ladle fulls of beans and stock and place in a saute pan over medium heat. (Save the remainder of the beans to eat at a later date). Whisk in butter until combined. Season the fish with salt, pepper, and chopped oregano and place gently on top of the beans. Cover and gently simmer for five minutes. Flip the fish and cover and cook for four more minutes. Remove fish from heat and continue simmering stock and reduce until it starts to thicken. Taste and season with salt and pepper appropriately.