I’m ashamed to say that though I LOVE refried beans, this is the first time I’ve ever made them myself. It’s just so easy to buy them in a can, or at a mexican restaurant, that I haven’t bothered. But this recipe is simple and it is definitely worth the effort in my mind. I figure my kids are the true test, since they aren’t that picky, and even they said they much preferred them. I adapted this recipe from one in Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen, and spiced them up a bit. I kept adding and tasting and adding more…and I think the cumin is the most important ingredient I added. If you like cumin, I think you’ll find this yummy.
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil (what I used, or substitute lard, bacon, or chorizo drippings for more flavor)
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 3 (15 oz) cans whole beans (I used one can pinto and two cans white kidney beans – feel free to mix up, but this was a great combo)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 cup crumbled mexican cheese (queso fresco or queso anejo) – optional
- In a large, non-stick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until deep golden about 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.
- Add the first can of beans, reserving about half of the liquid, and mash the beans gently (being careful not to damage the non-stick) with a potato masher or the back of a spoon (a potato masher is MUCH easier). Don’t worry about leaving a few whole or half beans. They’ll look homemade and taste great.
- Add the next can of beans, again reserving about 1/2 the liquid, and slowly mash. Repeat with the 3rd can of beans.
- Continue cooking so that the total time from the start of adding the first can totals about 10-15 minutes.
- Add more of the reserved bean liquid as necessary to keep the beans moist. You should end with the beans slightly more soupy than you want to serve them as they will harden on the plate.