RECIPE #273, DAY #461
ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Frijoles Refritos” from Rick Bayless’s Authentic Mexican, combined with some tips from a Bill and Cheryl Jamison book I borrowed from the library like 15 years ago*
TIMING: 20 minutes
DIFFICULTY: Pretty easy
TOOLS: A deep and wide saute pan and a potato masher
COOK TYPE: Stovetop
HEALTH: Despite their perhaps-mis-translated name, refried beans aren’t really fried twice. In fact, they’re not really fried at all. They are just sorta sauteed or stir-fried, mashed, and embellished, not in that order. Their bad rep probably comes from the lard which you begin with, but a little lard or bacon grease is not going to remove beans from the healthy category, in my opinion. Even so, you could swap the lard for butter or an oil and you could also completely omit the cream. At your taste buds’ peril.
An egg and refried beans (all the protein!) is a great way to start the day.
EXPERIENCE: I pretty much have always loved refried beans, but I have never enjoyed the canned variety. On the other hand, Taco Bell’s “Pintos and Cheese” have been a lifetime favorite. But then, after twenty-plus years of runny schmears of beans at Mexican restaurants, homemade refried beans happened to me. There is no substitute.
I originally made them from a long-lost recipe from a cookbook I snagged at the library. Years later, I bought myself a copy of a Rick Bayless book, but was bummed to see that he did not add cream to his beans. (I don’t know which is more authentic, but I know which is tastier.) So, I modified his recipe just a little bit and came up with this straight-forward standard.
They are fantabulous and rustic and addictive.
NOTES: Best way to make refried beans? Start with dry beans and then use your homemade beans and broth. Quickest way? Not that way. I use premium canned beans and a nice, MSG-free broth or nice, clean water. They definitely work.
- Heat 2 tablespoons pork lard or bacon fat over medium heat in a skillet. Add minced 1/2 onion and cook until browned. Add 1-2 cloves pressed garlic and stir for 1 minute.
- Increase heat to medium-high and add 2 cans drained pinto or black beans to the skillet, 1/2 at a time. In between each addition, smash the beans with a potato masher until beans are good are pulverized. Add broth as needed to keep them wet.
- Taste for salt and stir in 1/4 cup cream. Add more broth or water if needed and remove from heat. Serve topped with queso fresco.
Serve with red sauce or salsa, hot sauce, crema, fried eggs, and tortilla chips. Or serve alongside just about any Mexican-inspired meal.
*Recipe has been changed from the original.