The word frijoles means beans in Spanish. Now, we’ve all heard the schoolyard melody;
Beans, beans, the magical fruit. The more you eat, the more you toot. The more you toot, the better you feel. So let’s have beans with every meal!
Beans are delicious, but let’s face it, they make for noisy seconds. (See: blog title) Usually. Unless you know the trick my mother taught me. Once they’ve come to a boil for several minutes, throw out the first boil, add more water and continue to cook until done. Bam. Gas-less beans! (Or close to. Some people can’t be helped.)
I haven’t found that pinto beans are easy to come by in Melbourne, but I do know of two places where you can get them easily. I’ve seen them occasionally at the Queen Vic Markets at the dry legumes stall closest to Victoria St. and also in Murrumbeena at Oasis Bakery.
My pride and joy tool for cooking beans is my bean pot–bought in Mexico by my parents and given to me as a gift just after I was married.
Don’t be afraid to cook beans from their dry form. They taste better and have less salt than the refried canned slop in the international food aisles in grocery stores.
My recipe for refried beans will (hopefully) make you never want to buy store-bought bean dip again!
1 cup pinto beans
ground cumin to taste
granulated garlic to taste
salt to taste
1/2 cup milk
ceramic bean pot or equivalent (small/durable stock pot)
strainer or slotted spoonvegetable masher
large cast iron skillet
Fill your pot with 1 cup of pinto beans and the rest water and heat on medium. Once they have begun to boil, strain the beans and rinse. Put back in the pot and refill with water. The best way to cook them is on low for a couple hours. Check and stir your pot every little while to make sure they still have plenty of water covering them. Burnt bean smells are horrible! You’ll know they’re ready by their tenderness and peeling skins. In my bean pot, depending on your heat, they should be done anywhere from 2 hours.
Have your cast iron skillet and slotted spoon ready. Heat to medium/hot and then add 1/2 cup oil to start. Refried beans are pretty oil-hungry, but at least you’re in control of how much goes in. Begin straining the beans from the pot into the pan with the slotted spoon until they’re all in and let fry whole for a minute. Then begin mashing. If they feel too dry, add more oil. Remember, they should be a watery paste. You can also add milk and some of the water from the bean pot in lieu of more oil. Continue mashing until all the beans are mashed. If they still feel too dry, add more oil, milk or bean-water. Season with salt, garlic and cumin to taste. If it still tastes grainy, it needs more oil. The final product should be a smooth tasting paste. If it’s too watery, keep it on the heat and reduce until desired consistency is achieved. Keep in mind that they will thicken a little once they begin to cool.
Serve immediately. Freeze for several weeks or refrigerate and consume within a few days.
(For more flavour, you can cook a ham hock with the beans in the pot. Just remove before mashing, then shred, add and mix once the refried beans are done. Or shred the pork and eat with the beans whole!)
Dish ideas with refried beans.
Refried beans are delicious in burritos, naked burritos, tacos, as a side for enchiladas, on tostadas or toast with slices of avocado or parmesan cheese or a crumbly feta sprinkled on top, mixed with spanish rice or by themselves!