Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

To make refried beans, you must first cook a pot of pinto beans. Not a bad thing to know how to do. (Try them with a pan of Cornbread with lots of butter.)
  • 1 pound dried pinto beans
  • water
  • 1/2 pound salt pork
Wash and pick over beans. Cover with water and soak overnight. Or use soaking shortcut (see below).

Drain soaking water and cover with about 2 inches of fresh water in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Make several cuts into the salt pork down to, but not through, the rind, and add it to the pot.

Bring beans to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer, covered. Stir beans up from the bottom occasionally, and add water if they start looking dry. Cook for about 2 hours. When beans are soft (not mushy), but still hold their shape, they are done. Taste and add salt, if desired.

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Refried Beans

  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
  • 1/4 cup lard or bacon drippings
  • 1 pound cooked pinto beans (see above)
In a heavy skillet, sauté the onion and garlic in the lard (see Note below) or bacon drippings until onion is soft and clear.

Drain the liquid from the cooked pintos, reserving 1 cup. Remove the salt pork. Add the drained beans to the skillet, and mash them with a potato masher. Work the cooking liquid, one-fourth cup at a time, into the mashed beans until mixture is uniformly moist and smooth. Continue to cook and stir the beans up from the bottom of the pan, until mixture is a thick paste.

Refried Beans Notes

Dried beans cook faster if they are soaked. Cover beans with 2 inches of water, soak them overnight, drain, and then cook according to your recipe. A shortcut to overnight soaking is to cover the beans with plenty of water, bring them to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Then, turn off the heat, cover tightly, and let them sit for 1 hour. Then, drain and cook as usual.

People in areas with hard water can cook their beans till the cows come home, and the beans will still be tough or not thoroughly done. If you have that problem, add a scant 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda to the cooking water, and you will have one less problem.

A word about fats: Peanut oil is an acceptable substitute for the lard or bacon drippings if you like to eat Refried Beans frequently, although lard contains less saturated fat than butter. However, if fat is a real concern, it can be omitted altogether. Refried Beans are certainly not the same without it, but they're still good.
Kitchen tools you'll need: Dutch Ovens, Oval Platters, Potato Mashers, Saucepans
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