Wednesday, December 31

To Satisfy a Craving

I haven't really craved anything from home until recently. A few days ago I got a hankering for some refried beans. I've been able to find all the other Mexican food ingredients we use - flour & corn tortillas, seasoning, tortilla chips, even bottled salsa (although the really yummy fresh pico de gallo isn't available here. Suppose I could make some . . .) Refried beans are a staple for us back at home. When all else failed, there was always the ingredients to make a bean burrito in the house.

So I bought a pack of dried pinto beans, headed to the computer for some recipe research and gave making my own a go. It was easy, tasty and surprisingly satisfying to do it from scratch. I read a bunch of recipes, but used this one as my main guide. Here's the rundown -

1) Sort beans, throwing out the weird ones - make sure to enlist the help of your 4 year old. I used the whole pack of beans.

2) Cover with water, about 2-3 inches above beans.

3) Simmer for 2 - 2.5 hours. Add more water to the pot as needed.

4) Beans are done when they you can easily break them in half with your finger

5) Drain beans. Save a cup of the cooking water

5.5) Forgot to take a picture at this point. In pot, add 2-3 T olive oil (or fat of your choice - lard, bacon grease, canola oil) and saute finely chopped onions and garlic. About 1/4 cup. Adding onions and garlic is optional. You could also add spices at this point or finely cut jalapeno pepper.

6) Add 1/2 of your cooked beans to the oil & onion and mash and stir. Add reserved cooking liquid to attain desired consistency. Add SALT.

They are ready to eat! I like to put mine in a ceramic dish and bake with cheese on top. This is how my mom always did it. If you do this, make sure you add a bit more water during step 6. The beans dry out while baking.

1) Don't be afraid to add salt. They need salt. I didn't add enough. *Don't add salt to the water while they're simmering, it will make the beans tough.*
2) Add a generous amount of fat too. I probably used 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a bit more would have made them creamier and kept them moister during baking.
3) Seems there are a million opinions about cooking dried beans - that is one of the reasons I like the recipe I used. There are lots of tips and variations in the comment section. I'm definitely going to experiment with some of them.

I froze the other half of the cooked pinto beans. I'll let you know how that works out ~


Lisa said...

Very impressive!!!! Happy New Year!

Jorgelina said...

Happy New Year!

Dawn said...

I'm going to have to try out this recipe when I'm home again. Seems like the last time I tried to make pinto beans, though, it took me HOURS to get them cooked correctly, and that was after soaking them overnight.

Jessica said...

I'm making these right now! Hopefully they will turn out as yummy as yours look. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm a fellow expat and I make refried beans all the time :) I do it a little differently though....
I soak my beans for an hour, then I put them in my pressure-cooker for one spew then turn it off for 20 min. then turn it on for another spew. Then it's done!

I save the water and I use a hand-blender to blend up the beans. I add in onions & taco seasoning. I also will cook carrots and blend them in... it makes it more moist and you don't even taste the carrots - so you get the health benefits without having to eat them!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and the older the beans, the longer they take to cook.

Road Trippers said...

Amen, sister. When we got back from Korea the first place we ate was Taco Bell! Crazy, right? It was something about the refried beans necessity.

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