Friday, May 20, 2011

Refried Beans

If you are buying canned refried beans you are cheating yourself. Beans are easy to make. They are nutritious and pinto beans are practically free.

We've experimented with several different dried pulses and even 15 bean soup blend. They all taste different and they all taste great.

Refried Beans
Beans, lower left. Vaca Frita, lower right.

1 pound dried pinto beans
1 onion chopped (optional)
1 tablespoon oil or lard
4 rashers smoky bacon, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced

Sort beans to check for any rocks or little dirt clods. Dirt will make your beans taste like dirt. Place them in a slow cooker. Add water to about 3/4 shy of the rim of the crock. Add oil or lard and onion if using. I prefer it, my wife does not. The beans will be good either way. Set cooker to high.

Beans, right. Pork Shoulder, left.

After 6 hours the beans should be cooked but they can be left to cook for as long as 10 hours. If they are new beans (this year's crop) they will take less time so it's best to check them for doneness periodically. Add salt to taste and let cook for another 1/2 hour or so.

I do not soak my beans. The only advantage I can see to soaking them is a quicker cooking time. You have to plan ahead either way and this way I can start my beans in the morning instead of the night before. I hear that beans can be successfully cooked in salted water but I haven't experimented with that yet. I do know that an acidic environment (like chili) will result in beans that will never cook.

In a large soup pot over medium high heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until it is browned and has rendered its fat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly until aromatic (almost immediately). Add the beans and some of the cooking liquid. Reserve the rest of the cooking liquid of the beans need thinning as they cook.

Mash the beans with a potato masher as they are coming to temperature. When they are simmering, reduce heat and cook down some if too thin or add cooking liquid if it gets too thick. Taste for seasoning and add salt if necessary.

You can use this refrying method with canned pinto beans. Although it's not as good as homemade, it's way better than canned refried beans. You can also stop short of the refrying process and serve the beans whole in their juices.



  1. Whence the modifier "refried"? It doesn't seem to me that the beans get fried once, let alone a second time.

  2. Indeed, @vienoir. Twice cooked is probably more apt! The frying refers to the addition of the beans to the hot bacon grease (or lard more traditionally).