If I had to choose only one type of cuisine to live on for the rest of my life it would have to be Mexican. I have yet to find a dish that couldn’t be improved at least a bit by green chilies. Soup, eggs, biscuits and gravy, cornbread, you name it.
The most popular side dish to go with Mexican food is refried beans. Their mild taste and smooth texture pairs perfectly with any spicy entree. Until a year or so ago I always bought canned refried beans because I didn’t realize how easy (and inexpensive) it really is to make your own. After some experimentation I came up with a recipe we both liked. Now our freezer always has at least a few containers full of beans. They are great to pull out for a quick bean burrito or a nice side dish.
•3 cups dry pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
•1 onion, cut into quarters
•4 cloves garlic, left whole
•1-2 strips of bacon, left whole
•1 Tablespoon cumin
•1 Tablespoon chili powder
Place all ingredients in a crock pot. Cover with water to cover by several inches. Cook on low 8-10 hours, until the beans are tender.
I use the crockpot all the time to cook dried beans now so that I don’t have to babysit a pot on the stove for the whole afternoon. The only exception to this is red beans, which have to be boiled for 15 minutes before they are placed in the crock pot. They apparently have some sort of toxin that requires them to be brought to a quick boil.
Don’t drain the beans yet.
Next, heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. When the oil ripples add a small cup of beans. Stir them around well so that they get fried. Add another cup of beans and repeat until all of the beans are fried. Mash with a potato masher or a stick blender. I like the stick blender method because it is so much quicker, but it will result in a smoother texture than the potato masher. You may need to add a little bit of the bean cooking liquid depending on the consistency you want.
Add salt, to taste. I find that refried beans require quite a bit of salt. Add additional chili powder and cumin to taste, if desired.
This recipe will yield 6-8 cups of refried beans.