Saturday, March 3, 2012

Refried Beans: The Harmony

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Refried beans
Really good refried beans make even the most quiet eater go "MMmmmm".  There is something about the creamy richness of the beans that is very satisfying despite usually playing the role of a side dish.  I don't know about you but I am always looking to put a dab on my fork with whatever else I am eating otherwise that mouthful just does not taste as good as it should.

I have made refried beans with canned beans and it turns out good.  But.  Nothing beats making them with dried beans that you cook first then mash.  Something about the flavor and consistency is just different with refried beans that start from dried first.  That doesn't mean that you can't use canned beans in a pinch, I just prefer dried.  Give it a try if you haven't before.

1957 lard advertisement by the British Lard Marketing Board, funny
Traditional refried beans are made with lard.  For a long time this stuff had a very bad reputation but lately it is starting to make a comeback.  As a joke my husband bought a brick of lard back over the Christmas holiday season and it has been sitting in my fridge ever since.  I will see that blue box stuffed in the refrigerator door slot hidden behind the mustard and think, "I have to use that stuff somehow just to show him."  So I did.  And I confess, it made these refried beans really really tasty.  But let's just keep that part of the story between us, please.  You can also use bacon fat, drippings from chorizo, olive oil, coconut oil, or whatever you prefer.  Whatever your choice these will be great and the taste will beat out the canned version every time.

Refried Beans

Michelle K.
You can make your beans on the stove top or in the pressure cooker. Which ever method you use you do not need to soak your beans before cooking. Because I am usually pressed for time I end up using the pressure cooker most often. Canned beans work too so that is also an option.


  • 1 lb Pinto beans
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs lard (or fat of your choice)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup water


  1. For pressure cooked beans: wash and sort your beans then add them to your pressure cooker. Cover the beans with at least 3 quarts of water. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican oregano (or regular) and close up your pot. Bring to high pressure and then set your timer to 30 minutes. Use the natural release method to cool your pot down enough to safely open your lid. The time it takes to cook your beans can vary quite a bit depending on what size they are (there are several varieties of Pinto beans), your elevation and how fresh they are. Pressure cooking is very forgiving - if you did not cook the beans long enough you can adjust your water as needed, seal the pot up and put the beans back on the flame. Cook for an additional 15 minutes and check again, repeating as necessary. Since these are for refried beans you are looking for a very well cooked bean that is tender and completely cooked through. Always use the natural release method to let the pressure come down enough to allow you to open the lid safely.
  2. For stove top cooked beans: wash and sort your beans then add them to your large pot. Cover the beans with at least 3 inches of water. Add the 1/2 teaspoon of Mexican oregano (or regular) and bring to a boil. Lower the heat immediately to simmer and cook, covered, for 2 - 3 hours. Check the beans occasionally and adjust the water if needed, maintaining about 1-2 inches of water over the top of the beans. The cooking time will vary depending on what size your beans are, your elevation and how fresh they are. They are done when they are very tender and cooked through completely.
  3. Drain the beans once they are cooked and set aside. Add the lard (or other fat of your choice) to a pre-heated large skillet. Add the onion and salt and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add your garlic and cumin and sauté another minute, just long enough to bring out the fragrance.
  4. Add the beans and the 1/4 cup water to your skillet then grab your potato masher. Mash the beans in the skillet until they are smooth but still have larger bits of bean in the puree. Add more water as needed to reach the consistency that you like.
  5. Adjust the salt to your taste. Serve warm with a sprinkle of cheese, or as is, for an amazing side dish.
Yield: 10 servings

Prep Time: 00:10
Cook time: 00:45


Calories: 71
Total carbs: 9