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Refried beans: homemade vs. canned. April 30, 2014

Posted by ourfriendben in homesteading, recipes.
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Silence Dogood here. Cinco de Mayo is fast approaching, and when we think about tacos, burritos, layered dips, or a simple, hot, filling lunch with tortilla chips and salsa, our friend Ben and I think of refried beans (a lot). We love refried beans. A lot. We even like canned refried beans, you know, that stuff you pry out of a can that looks like really bad dogfood.

It’s not that canned refried beans taste bad. Some brands—our favorite is the, gulp, Taco Bell brand, which we can no longer find in our local groceries—are quite flavorful and even vegetarian-friendly, which, since I’m a vagetarian, is key for us. It’s just that they have no texture and look horrible.

I confess to grabbing a can on super-busy nights and wrestling some of the horrid-looking glop out of it and onto some burritos, where it can be hidden beneath chipotle hot sauce, shredded cheese, chopped cilantro, fresh salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, and the like. Then you get the flavor and protein of the beans without dealing with the appearance. By the time I’ve wrapped up the burritos, topped them with sour cream and salsa verde, and popped them in the oven, I feel pretty good about our meal, especially when I serve it with extra cilantro, shredded lettuce, chopped scallions (green onions), and sliced tomatoes, jalapenos, and olives for toppings.

However, it is easy and incredible to make your own refried beans from scratch. They taste delicious and, unlike canned refried beans, look appetizing and have great texture as well. Bearing in mind that no “refried” beans are actually even fried, much less refried, despite their name, refritos, let’s take a look at making them yourself. You will never taste more flavorful, delicious beans, I promise you!

Silence’s Best-Ever Refried Beans

canola oil
2 large sweet onions (Vidalia or WallaWalla type)
1 large green bell pepper
3-6 paste tomatoes
1 tablespoon lemon juice (we like Key lemon)
1 heaping tablespoon black mustard seeds
1 heaping tablespoon whole cumin seeds
1 heaping tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon salt (we like Trocomare or RealSalt)
1 tablespoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco Chipotle or Pickapeppa
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed

Heat a generous amount of oil in a capacious, heavy pot. (I love my Le Creuset Dutch ovens for this.) Add finely minced onions, diced bell pepper, and chopped tomatoes. When the vegetables have cooked down, add lemon juice and spices, salt, hot sauce, and cilantro. Then add the pinto beans. Stir well to blend, then use a potato masher to smash the beans. You’ll get a semi-smooth, semi-chunky texture, which is fine. Stir well to blend, let the beans get hot, and serve or turn off the heat, covering the pot, until you’re ready. The beans will keep well refrigerated, too, for future meals and snacks.

‘Til next time,

Silence

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