Let’s talk refried beans.
I’ve always made them from a can, basically open the can, dump into a pot, heat and stir. I’m a purist, I never buy the vegetarian or fat free kind – without lard, why bother?
In my mission to switch over to totally homemade, I’ve failed at several specifics. Tortillas, baby wipes, wine (what a disaster) and refried beans. I’ve made bean mush, bean paste, bean patties but a true refried bean was out of reach.
Last 4th of July, we went to our Steven’s friend Horry’s house to celebrate. Horry’s wife Mirelda is super cool and way hotter than me. They’re from California and are hispanic, and regularly eat homemade Mexican food. While the guys were down at the lake fishing and grilling fajitas, Mirelda and I hung out at the house and watched Hoarders, played with the babies, and fixed the sides.
Well, in all honesty, Mirelda fixed the sides and I sat, watching in awe, as she whipped up Mexican rice, guacamole, salsa and refried beans, all without opening a package, a box or a can. I was particularly impressed by her beans, and she taught me how. I will never buy another can of refried beans.
Some thoughts, before we begin the tutorial.
First – you can’t decide at 4pm that you’re going to serve these beans at 6 the same night. There are some cheats that I’ll discuss at the end but for truly homemade, it takes three days.
Second – these do not fall under the modern, trendy definition of healthy. They are REAL FOOD. All natural, homemade from scratch, without preservatives or chemicals, but they have salt and fat in them.
Third – Salt and fat are yummy.
How to make refried beans:
1.Make beans. I’m not going to tell you how to do that, that’s a blog post in and of itself. There are tons of great bean recipes out there – but most will have you soak the beans overnight and then cook the beans all day. That’s two days of the three day process.
Here is my favorite bean recipe (from my favorite food blog!) http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/08/beans_and_cornb/
2.After you eat your beans and cornbread, put the leftover beans in a covered container in the fridge, They need to sit in the fridge at least over night.
3.The day you want the refried beans, make some bacon. You can do whatever you want with the bacon, we just want the bacon grease.
4.Heat the bacon grease in a skillet and saute some onions and garlic in the grease until soft and clear but not brown.
5.Using a slotted spoon, scoop up some cold beans and put them into the hot grease. Gently fry the beans in the grease – you want them soft and warm but not crispy or burnt.
6.When the beans are hot and soft, mash them with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon. Season with cumin and hot sauce and whatever else you like – just remember, your beans should be pretty tasty from the first time you made them.
7.As the beans cook, they’ll get thicker and thicker – use bean water from your bean container to thin them to the consistency you like. We like ours on the thicker side, but I know a lot of folks like them kind of runny.
That’s it! It’s surprisingly simple if you know what you’re doing. It’s not really a recipe, more of a method, that you need to know. These beans are truly yummy and authentic.
Now.. the cheats. If it’s 4 pm and you HAVE to have refried beans that night and don’t happen to have a tupperware dish full of cooked pintos in your fridge, all is not lost. Get a few cans of ranch style beans, drain them and reserve the liquid. Follow the steps above – if you need more liquid than you were able to get from the can, you can use chicken stock or even water. Do NOT use any sweet bean, like baked beans or barbeque beans. They would just be gross.
If you’re one of those “on top of things” moms that hides veggie purees in food to sneak nutrients into her kids (I wanna be one of those moms when I grow up) these beans are a great place to hide purees. They have a strong flavor, an already-mushy texture, and kids love them. I’ve added canned pumpkin without my kids noticing, and wrapped in a tortilla with some shredded cheese, they think they’re getting an awesome treat.