Refried beans are such a comfort food, and so easy to cook that it’s a shame to buy them in cans (not least-wise because they’re so cheap!!!!!). I made up a double batch of them yesterday to serve up with Ranchero Sauce and Tortillas. The beans freeze just fine, so it makes sense to double up when possible.
This is one of those recipes that’s better made the day before (if you can plan that far in advance ……. I’m sometimes challenged in that department). If you don’t have a pressure cooker, just cook the beans in a large saucepan with a tight fitting lid and a couple more inches of water for an hour or two instead of bringing them up to pressure, until the beans are completely soft and starting to disintegrate. Check once in a while to make sure they don’t boil dry.
And in case you’re interested: there are only two things I use distilled white vinegar for: cleaning and refried beans. I have tried making refried beans using lemon/lime juice or white balsamic vinegar, and they just don’t taste right! Weird, I know, but the beans seem to need the cutting flavor of white distilled vinegar.
3 oz (1/4 large) onion, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, skinned
1 fresh jalapeño OR other chili to taste, stem and seeds removed
1 lb (2 cups) dried pinto beans, picked over, rinsed, and soaked in plenty of water overnight*
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 – 2 tsp salt
2 tsp white distilled vinegar
Put the onion, garlic, and jalapeño in a blender with 16 fl oz (2 cups) of water, and blend until smooth. (Or, finely mince all by hand.)
Drain the soaked beans, and put in a pressure cooker (if you have one) or other large pan with a tight fitting lid.
Add the blended onion/garlic/chili water to the beans, and rinse out the blender into the pan with another 16 fl oz (2 cups) of water to make sure you’re getting all the flavorings.
Add the cumin to the beans, and bring the lot up to the boil. Pressure cook for 15 minutes and allow to come down from pressure slowly, OR boil in a saucepan with a tight fitting lid for an hour to an hour and a half (adding water periodically, if necessary), or until the beans are totally soft and starting to disintegrate.
Once the beans are totally soft, add the salt and vinegar, and allow to cool completely. The juices will thicken as they cool and develop the resistant starches (if you’re interested: see resistant starches).
Adjust seasoning, and reheat to serve with pretty much any Mexican food. (… and yes, this is why they’re called refried beans – they’re cooked twice.)
* Fast soak method: after sorting and rinsing the beans, cover them with enough water to cover plus 2-3″ of water. Bring this to the boil, turn off the heat, and allow to soak for 1 hour before proceeding with the recipe.