This Instant Pot red beans and rice recipes is a go-to weeknight meal



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Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Active time:20 mins

Total time:1 hour 15 minutes, plus overnight soaking time

Servings:8

Active time:20 mins

Total time:1 hour 15 minutes, plus overnight soaking time

Servings:8

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The first time I made red beans and rice for our then-foster son, 8 years old at the time, it was out of a sense of desperation. It was hard to get him to eat more than a few bites of anything that wasn’t pizza, but this dish (along with Frito pie) was an outright hit: I’ll never tire of eating the combination of spicy red kidney beans with fluffy white rice to soak up the creamy sauce, and as it turned out, neither would he.

I had adapted the recipe from the New Orleans restaurateurs Emily and Alon Shaya. She makes the vegetarian version they set out for friends and family every Monday (along with a meaty version and a salad), in keeping with a tradition whose roots supposedly lie in Monday being wash day. Before the advent of washing machines, the story goes, it was an all-day affair, so cooks were looking for a way to use Sunday night’s meat leftovers and let the pot bubble away on the stovetop for hours on end without much, if any, attention. Red beans qualified.

For years I have cooked the dish low and slow, employing smoked paprika and soy sauce instead of meat. In accordance with Emily Shaya’s instructions, I start with the “trinity” of onion, green pepper and celery, along with Creole seasoning, then cook the beans on low heat for four to five hours before adding more flavorings (including Tabasco) and mashing some in the pot to get that creamy, saucy texture. Before they’re done, I steam white or brown rice.

The 8-year-old loved it so much he asked me to pack it for his weekday lunches, which I was happy to do. At the time, I was working from home, so it was easy enough to get it going midday and finish it in time for dinner, even on a weekday. Fast forward a year, and I’m back in the office most days. The 8-year-old is 9 and living with extended family, although we get to see him for regular visits, and now we have a 14-year-old who is seemingly always hungry. He loves these red beans and rice, too, but between work and shuttling him to or from basketball practice and the like, I rarely feel like I can be home long enough to slow-simmer a pot of beans.

The solution was obvious: I now make the beans exclusively in the Instant Pot, shaving hours off the process. This approach is still not lightning quick; red kidney beans take longer to get tender than many varieties. But it works beautifully, especially once I cut the amount of liquid back to account for the IP’s lack of evaporation. When I hear that telltale time-is-up beep, I manually release the steam before finishing the dish, then I spoon the saucy beans into shallow bowls and add a scoop of rice.

In a way, I’m still hewing to tradition. Because the hour or so that it takes the beans to cook is just about enough time to do a load or two of wash (in a machine, of course), even if it’s not a Monday.

Instant Pot Red Beans and Rice

Serve with a salad and bread, if you’d like.

Storage: Refrigerate separately: the beans for up to 1 week and the rice for up to 3 days. Freeze separately: the beans and the rice for up to 6 months.

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  • 1 pound dry red kidney beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion (8 ounces), chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free Creole seasoning (such as Tony Cachere’s, see NOTES)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 4 cups Scrappy Vegetable Broth or store-bought no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste
  • Chopped scallions, for serving (optional)

Rinse and drain the kidney beans.

Set a programmable multicooker (such as an Instant Pot; see NOTES) to SAUTE. Let the pot heat for 2 minutes, then add the oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion, green pepper, celery and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the Creole seasoning and smoked paprika and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds

Add the beans, vegetable broth and bay leaf. Secure the appliance’s lid and make sure the steam valve is sealed. Select PRESSURE (HIGH) and set the cook time to 1 hour. (It should take about 10 minutes for the appliance to come to pressure.)

About 20 minutes before the beans are ready, make the rice: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the rice and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat so the water is at a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the rice sit for 10 minutes, then uncover, fluff with a fork and cover again if needed to keep warm until serving.

When the beans have finished the 1 hour of pressure cooking, release the pressure manually by moving the handle to “Venting,” covering your hand with a towel and making sure to keep your hand and face away from the vent when the steam releases. Open the appliance and check to see if the beans are falling-apart tender. If not, return them to PRESSURE (HIGH) for 10 minutes at a time, manually releasing the pressure and steam each time, until they are very tender.

Stir in the soy sauce, Tabasco and salt. Taste, and season with more Tabasco and/or salt as needed. Use a wooden spoon or bean masher to smash some of the beans, or use an immersion blender to very briefly puree some of the beans in the pot. (You can also scoop out a cup or so, puree in a blender or food processor, and return them to the pot.)

Divide the beans among shallow bowls and add a scoop of rice to the center of each. Sprinkle the scallions, if using, on top. Pass more Tabasco at the table.

This was tested in a 6-quart Instant Pot.

If you use Creole seasoning that has salt in it, reduce the salt you add later to 1/2 teaspoon before tasting and adjusting; To make your own spice blend, see this recipe (omitting the salt, if desired).

Per serving (1 cup beans and 3/4 cup rice)

Calories: 422; Total Fat: 6 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 977 mg; Carbohydrates: 79 g; Dietary Fiber: 15 g; Sugar: 4 g; Protein: 17 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Cool Beans” by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press, 2020).

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to voraciously@washpost.com.

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