Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Recipe – Refried Beans by a White Girl

I’m pretty sure I was Mexican in a past life. I LOVE love LOOOOOOOOOOOVE Mexican food. I could eat it everyday. I guess it’s a good thing I live in SoCal, because it’s everywhere. So when I spotted the bag of pinto beans in my pantry, I immediately thought, “I’m going to make my own refried beans today”. Lani has random acts of painting, while I have random acts of cooking & canning. We’re quite the pair.


I happened to snag this “Mexican Cooking Class Cookbook” (awesome…you can get it used for $0.12!) from my mother-in-law when we were helping her pack up for their move to Chi-town (Random Fun Fact: My old boss asked me how to spell Chicago… “Heather, how do you spell Chicago? S-H-I…?” Really? So for a long time, my coworker and I laughed that Chicago was spelled S-H-E-E-K-A-G-O or any equally crazy combination. Yeah…my boss…). Mexican cookbook. Snagged! I also checked a couple of my other cookbooks for a refried beans recipe, and texted my resident Mexi friend for some tips & tricks. Yes, I’m neurotic.

And in true fashion, I used the cookbook recipe as more of a guideline… and ended up doing my own thing. Here you go:

Refried Beans by a White Girl
Makes about 5.5 pints = LOTS of servings

4 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
2.5 Tbsp Bacon Fat + 1/3 Cup Bacon Fat
6 Cups Chicken Stock
10 Cups Water
2 onions - one sliced thinly, one finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced

- Rinse beans in cold water & pick out any debris or bad beans.
- Get a large pot and combine beans, water, chicken stock, 2.5 Tbsp bacon fat, and sliced onion. Bring to a boil, then lower & simmer covered for about 1.5 hours, until beans are tender, but not soft & squishy.

- Stir in salt to taste. I used about 6 tsp. Continue cooking at a covered simmer for another 30-45 minutes, or until beans are soft.
- Dump beans and liquid into an extra large bowl. DO NOT DRAIN IT!
- Put your large pot, now empty, back on the burner. Heat the remaining 1/3 cup bacon fat. Add chopped onion & garlic. Sauté over medium heat until soft. About 4 minutes.
- Turn heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of undrained beans to the pot. Cook, stir, & mash the beans with a masher. A potato masher worked just fine for me.
- As the beans begin to dry, add another cup of undrained beans. Repeat until all the beans & all the liquid have been added & mashed. It should be a coarse puree.
And there you have it! Refried beans that are to-die-for. I tasted them & almost fell over. They are THAT good. My absolute favorite reaction was when Hubby got home. It went something like this:
Hubby: What’s for dinner?
Me: Oh, I made refried beans. We’re having burritos.
Hubby: [Walks into the kitchen. Sees the GIANT pot on the cooktop.] Oh! You made them. I thought I “made them” by opening a can… 
Me: Yes. Yes I did.
Hubby: [grabs a spoon and takes a bite. Eyes get wide and he has to hold onto the counter with the other hand.] Oh my god! These are amazing! The best refried beans ever!
Me: I KNOW, right?! [pats self on the back]

The bacon fat totally makes it. Lard works, but bacon fat adds that smoky delicious flavor and a little undertone of bacon. Everything is better with bacon. That should be my new motto. I ALWAYS save the bacon grease in a little container & put it in the fridge because it’s so good to use when sautéing something, or add it to your beans. Even split the fat contents of a savory baking recipe, like rolls, and use 1/2 butter, 1/2 bacon fat.

So So SO good! We had them in some burritos that night, and later that night as a bean dip with some chips & a side of queso. It really doesn’t get much better than that. Later this week, we’ll have some old fashioned BRC (Beans, Rice, Cheese) burritos. Hello cheap, easy, & delicious dinner! Beans, Beans, the magical fruit. Make them yourself, and they don’t make you toot (as much)!

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