Don’t feel the pressure

Dixie Burmeister and her friend Lisa Vigil created a Cinco de Mayo spread that included drunken beans, posole and pork green chili and chili verde using beef. Dixie used a pressure cooker to prepare her part of the feast.

Lisa Vigil of Grand Junction holds a bowl of her green chili, which is expected by her family at every gathering.

Dixie Burmeister remembers the unpredictable pressure cookers of her childhood, but was happy with this multipurpose, electric pressure cookers he recently purchased.



Lisa’s Green Chili and tortillas are expected at every family gathering and have been for many years. After tasting, we knew why. It only took her about an hour to make both the green chili and tortillas.

Lisa’s Homemade Tortillas

Like many good cooks, Lisa Vigil usually uses some of this and that without a recipe, but she did put this together for you.

Flour: about 4 cups

Salt: about two teaspoons

Baking powder: about 2–3 teaspoons

Lard or butter: about 1/4–1/3 cup

Very warm water: a cup or so

Mix flour, salt and baking powder, cut in lard/butter to a crumbly texture, using hands, fork or pastry tool.

Slowly mix in very warm water, just enough to form a ball of dough, not too sticky, like for bread dough. Allow dough to rest for 10 minutes or so. With your thumb and forefinger pinch off a ball of dough about the size of a ping-pong ball, pulling down over the ball about three times. Do this with remaining dough, then let the balls of dough rest for a few minutes.

Using your fingers pull dough into a flat, small circle about the size of a big cookie and then roll with a rolling pin, smooth dowel stick or a cut off broom handle (Lisa’s way).

Roll forward and backward, rotate the tortilla a few degrees and roll again, flip the rolled out tortilla back and forth between the palms of your hands a few times.

Cook in a dry, medium/high heated cast iron skillet or grill. Lay the tortilla on the grill, as soon as it bubbles (kind of like a dry pancake) turn it over and cook the other side.

Tips: Don’t work the dough too much. Always, always use very warm or hot water. Watch each tortilla cook until they turn dark brown in spots.


Lisa’s Green Chili

1/4 cup vegetable cooking oil

1–2 cups cubed pork (she uses pork tenderloin)

3/4 cup flour

5 cups water

6–8 roasted green chiles, seeded and chopped or stripped (add to taste)

Garlic salt to taste

Place oil in large pan, heat and cook pork cubes until lightly browned, add flour and brown stirring constantly, slowly add water to make gravy, stirring constantly. Add chiles and garlic salt to taste — must be garlic salt, do not use fresh garlic as it doesn’t taste the same.

Cook until heated through and thickened.



Drunken Beans/frijoles borrachos

I used a recipe from a ‘70s “Sunset Cookbook” that I had to adjust for a pressure cooker, but there are many recipes can be found online.

The recipe I used included pinto beans, bacon, hot chills, onion, Mexican seasonings and, of course, a can of beer.


Chili Verde

There are so many versions of chili verde with different ingredients resulting in different textures, looks and taste.

The recipe I used was from the “Well-Filled Tortilla Cookbook” by Victoria Wise and Susanna Hoffman.

Plenty of recipes can be found online. I used beef instead of pork and the chili took 25 minutes to cook in the pressure cooker. The other on-the-stove recipes I found called for 2 1/2–3 hours.



When I started researching posole recipes, I found most had time-consuming preps regarding the soaking and scraping of dried red chiles and soaked dried corn (hominy).

So I did an online search for “posole recipes, pressure cooker” and found

Peggy, is the name of Patty Lu’s pressure cooker, which she uses to create all her recipes. Like me, Patty was afraid of pressure cookers until she discovered the new ones and got hooked. If you pressure cook, you must go to

I love Patty’s recipe for Mexican Pork Posole that uses store-bought red enchilada sauce instead of making your own, canned hominy instead of the dried version, as well as pork, liquid, chilies, onions and garlic.

I have finally conquered my fear of using a pressure cooker.

Albeit, the one I’ve got is a new multi-purpose, electric, plug-in type and not the stove-top version from my childhood memories.

I remember coming home from school and hearing the sputtering sound of the pressure cooker, often followed by a big swish sound and a groan from my mother, which meant there was chicken on the ceiling.

Fortunately, no one ever got hurt and that sound meant we would be having mom’s best-ever chicken-and-homemade noodles for dinner.

While my mother’s pressure cooker meals prompted me to get my own pressure cooker, I made excuses for not using it. Then I got drawn in by the latest, greatest and supposedly easy-to-use pressure cooker.

Instead of making more excuses, I decided to combine this new pressure cooker with making food for Cinco de Mayo, and called my friends Lisa and Gary Vigil to invite them for an evening of tasting some of their family favorite recipes made Lisa’s traditional way and some traditional dishes made in my pressure cooker.

Lisa volunteered to make her tortillas and pork green chili that brings raves from family and friends.

I would make posole, chili verde and “drunken beans,” also known as frijoles borrachos, in my speedy pressure cooker, which I hadn’t yet tried and with recipes I hadn’t tried.

Nervy, huh?

I spent a day studying the pressure cooker parts, instructions, guidelines for using and the warnings.

Hesitantly, I followed instructions to test it with plain water. Success.

Next, I used it to cook a batch of dried beans, with the option to pre-soak or not. I didn’t. In 18 minutes, I had perfectly cooked pinto beans. I couldn’t believe it. And the flavor of those beans was far better than the commercially canned ones.

The big tasting night came and we all had a great time eating, laughing and telling stories about the traditional foods we all love.

Everyone loved Lisa’s tortillas and green chili, and it was the better of the two we tasted.

The pressure cooker chili verde I made was very tasty and we’ll have it again, but it was different from Lisa’s.

The key to success with either recipe was roasted chiles. Gary and Lisa roast chiles every fall during the harvest. Lucky for me, they shared, but you can grow some or buy them at a farmers market ready to roast or roasted, and freeze them for later use.

Lisa says to always taste the chiles as they can vary in “heat” and taste determines how many you use.

During our tasting, Gary had two bowls of my posole and beans. He told me I could cook for him anytime. I called that validation and my pressure cooker now has a place along with the rest of my “must have” kitchen tools.


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