Cowboy Beans and Mexican-Seasoned Rice

Every so often I get it into my head that Mark and I aren’t eating enough iron. This weekend was one of those times. Then I found myself flipping through Simply Heavenly!, in which Abbott George Burke pretty much assures me eternal life if I eat dried beans cooked in a pressure cooker every day. Knowing that dried beans are a good source of iron, I decided to follow his advice and stocked up on several different kinds. The bean dish I made tonight is an adaptation of what he calls Cowboy Beans. I don’t know that I’ve ever had cowboy beans, to be honest with you, and googling it turned up a lot of recipes that call for smothering beans in barbecue sauce, and a few that seemed more like meatastic versions of this one, so I don’t know if there is some discrepancy about what cowboy beans are or what, but I’m going to go ahead and call ’em Cowboy Beans because it reminds me of the time my family and I went out west and pretended we were cowboys. And girls. I think the others may have eaten cowboy beans, but I was vegetarian at the time, so I stuck to the cowboy coffee.

Cowboy Beans

2 cups dried pinto or pink beans (I used pink)
4 cups vegan “chicken” broth
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 jalapeno pepper, minced (crushed red pepper is shown in the photograph because it’s what the original recipe called for, but a jalapeno made much more sense to me)
1/2 tsp rubbed sage
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup vegan “bacon” bits

Place beans in a pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for one hour. (Alternatively, soak in cold water overnight.) Drain beans.

In a pressure cooker if you have one, or large pot if you don’t, combine broth, liquid smoke, sage, and oregano and bring to a boil. Add the beans. If using a pressure cooker, bring up to pressure and cook for 10-12 minutes. If not using a pressure cooker, cover and simmer for a long time, until beans are soft: maybe 3 hours?

Bring pressure cooker down from pressure if using, and uncover. If there is more broth remaining than is required to cover beans by about half an inch, ladle it out. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes. Liquid will have reduced, but will still be a little “brothy”.

Serve with seasoned rice (recipe follows).

Mexican-Seasoned Rice

4 cups cooked rice, medium grain preferred (all I had was brown jasmine but I survived), optionally cooked in vegan “chicken” stock
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup sofrito
chopped cilantro (I used a frozen cube from Trader Joe’s)

Cook the rice using your preferred method; mine is a rice cooker. Warm some olive oil in a medium-large pot, then add the onions and bell pepper and saute until onions are golden.

Add the garlic and sofrito (and if using frozen cilantro, the cilantro) and cook for another minute.

Stir in the rice and cilantro (if using fresh).

Serve with cowboy beans (recipe above).

This meal, particularly the beans, was very good. For reasons known only to him, when dinner was announced, Mark helped himself only to the rice – especially strange considering he informed me he’d had rice for lunch (“Rice and what?” I asked. “Just rice.”) – and returned to the dining room table and gobbled it up. Then he asked if he could taste some beans from my plate. “Oh my god!!” he exclaimed, swallowing, then darted into the kitchen as fast as his legs could take him. “These are amazing!” Then he burned his mouth trying to eat them too fast. There’s probably a lesson buried in there somewhere for him to learn, but I doubt he’ll find it. The lesson I learned is: cooking with dried beans doesn’t have to involve planning the night before and soaking them, and can actually be pretty fast (with a pressure cooker anyway), much more delicious than you might think, and of course cheap and healthy.

So where are the cats, you’re wondering? Well, I was wondering that myself when I was pulling this together, until I wandered into the library to check my messages and found this:


  1. Amey Said,

    November 4, 2008 @ 12:08 am

    wow, what a super awesome post. great pictures and great sounding recipes. I’ll give it a go. I definitely need to eat more beans. somehow I always buy beans, but then I don’t end up making them. This will help me with my effort to clean out my pantry.

  2. Lisa Said,

    November 4, 2008 @ 8:54 am

    So cozy!

  3. Mom Said,

    November 4, 2008 @ 9:34 am

    They must have been very cold to have their noses covered. Stormy shared a few of her extra toys and enough catnip and felt for me to make the two ‘fur balls’ some new catnip toys, which Aunt Lynn will be bringing to you.

  4. renae Said,

    November 4, 2008 @ 11:55 am

    Thanks, Amey. I do the same thing: stocking up on dried beans and then never getting around to make them because it seems like too much effort. I’m on a mission to break that habit!

    Thanks, Mum! The cats can’t wait to destroy their new toys. And yeah, it’s been cold in the library because things tend to catch fire when I turn the heat on in there. Plus if I keep it cold in there, I sometimes end up with two cats on my lap: a rare but exciting situation!

  5. Jessica Said,

    July 6, 2009 @ 2:56 pm

    Hi Renae!

    Was doing a google search to find something different to do with my rice and up popped your site. What makes this even more perfect is I just made up a big batch of beans… score!

    But, great blogs! I am a vegetarian tipping over to the vegan side and am definitely gonna check out some more of what you have to offer.

    (Oh, by the by, totally diggin’ the Invader Zim reference!)

    Thanks much!

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