Championing Homemade Refried Beans

Whenever I dine at my favorite Mexican restaurant, I manage to draw quizzical stares from my servers. I perform this feat, time and again, by ordering a side of beans as my entree. By a country mile, the refried beans are the best item on the menu. I used to order full dinner plates, but I'd greedily slurp up all of the beans, and what remained would end up in a doggie bag. This restaurant's beans taste of love. They are made by hand.

It's important that refried beans be homemade, with love. Ok, you ask, why would I insisted that you spend the time to make refried beans at home, when you could no doubt buy a can of them for little over a dollar? First of all, the whole issue of BPA in cans is enough to scare me away from eating canned food very often. Secondly, homemade refried beans are a better value. But really, the best reason to make them at home is taste. Beans gently cooked with the subtle underpinnings of lard and onions are superior. They aren't an afterthought to a meal, or a side dish. They taste of beans, subtle and sweet, and have a unmatched silky texture.

Hang on a for a second while I swoon.

Sort and wash one pound of beans. In a glass bowl, add enough water to cover the beans by at least 3-4", and 1 tsp. salt. Let soak 8-12 hours (overnight is good). Drain the beans, rinse, and place them into a crock pot. Add one large diced onion, a few tablespoons of lard, and enough water to cover the beans by 1 1/2". Let the beans simmer on low for 6-8 hour, or until very tender.

In your largest skillet, heat 6 Tbsp. lard. Add a large diced onion, and cook until soft but not brown. Add 2-3 ladles full of beans (with some of their cooking liquid), and mash. Continue adding the beans, a few ladles at a time, then mash to your desired consistency. Let the beans cook over low heat until they form a loose paste, and become glossy. Season with salt to taste.

This recipe makes between 3-4 pints of beans. Normally, I don't like having glass in the freezer. But this is one food that I prefer to be frozen in jars. When vacuum sealed and frozen, refried beans keep very well.

Comments

  1. Yes!! Refried beans made from scratch with dried beans are SO much better than those made from canned beans. (I didn't even know that it was possible to buy already refried beans in a can!!)

    Try adding some dried oregano to the beans as they simmer. For me, it's essential. (Sorry, can't remember now what Latin American cookbook I read to learn about the wonders of oregano with beans.)

    I used to use lard religiously in our beans as well. But once, we didn't have any lard and I used a sunflower oil instead. I was very surprised to notice virtually no change in flavour.

    -Elizabeth

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  2. I like to cook beans with avocado leaves, if I can get them.

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  3. I love oregano! I will have to try this!

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  4. BTW - what kind of beans do you use for refried beans?

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  5. Plain old pinto beans, for the most part. They're inexpensive, and I think they have a nice flavor, too. But black beans work well, too.

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  6. I made these yesterday. They were delicious. Making beans from scratch makes a huge difference. There is no comparison. I love cooking beans in my slow cooker. And I love any chance to use my lovely lard.

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  7. Nico, did you say one of my favorite words? As you know, my own passion for lard runs deep.

    And I pulled a jar of these beans out of the freezer just tonight. The rest of the dinner was good, but I could have eaten the whole batch of beans myself.

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  8. I made these again this last week to take camping. They are so good. I live an hour from the border so I know my Mexican food, and these are some of the best I have had. Lard is one of my favorite words too. I took some camping with us also. It makes everything taste better.

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  9. Nico- Someday, in the not so distant future, people will wake up and realize what they have been missing by shunning lard. Honestly, every time I take out a jar of these beans, I could eat them up with my fingers! So cool that you take them camping. How could camp food get better? Add homemade frijoles!

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  10. Yah! so, miz helen just put up a recipe for tamales and you put up a recipe for refried beans which I have bookmarked and I am SO making a traditional mexican meal over the christmas holiday break with my girls! VERY cool! I too ADORE refried beans. You know my favorite thing to do is get some great saffron rice, the beans, some good cheese and amazing spicey salsa and mix it all together and EAT IT UP! OH so good! Thanks for sending me this link. I agree! I am a beaner! :)

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  11. Oh man, Alex, they're gonna be so good with your freshly rendered lard!

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