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 ~