Thursday, September 27, 2007

Refried Beans

When we made Chef JP's mole bbq sauce last weekend, one of the side dishes we added was a staple of any Mexican or Tex-Mex meal - refried beans.

It's not like it's hard to find find ready-made refries in the store. They come in multiple varieties in cans or in dehydrated mixes. But homemade refries aren't hard to make and, like everything else you make on your own, there's a certain satisfaction, not to mention an authenticity, you just can't get by dumping them from a can or box.

The recipe we use comes from Annemarie Colbin's wonderful "The Natural Gourmet." I didn't realize how many of our favorites come from this great book until I started blogging, but it seems I turn to this valuable reference about once a week to share one of its nuggets with you.

Refried Beans

3 cups dried pinto beans, soaked 6 cups water 1 bay leaf 1 carrot 1 teaspoon sea salt 3 medium onions 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 heaping teaspoon dried oregano 1 heaping teaspoon dried basil 1 tablespoon ground cumin Tabasco or hot sauce to taste (optional)

1. Drain the beans. Place them in a 4-quart pot. Add the 6 cups water or enough to cover by 1 inch. Add the bay leaf and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes, or until the beans are soft. Add the salt and cook for 10 minutes more, then remove the carrot and bay leaf. Drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
2. Chop the onions; you should have about 2 cups. In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the onions and saute over medium heat for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until soft. Add the oregano, basil, and cumin.
3. Continue to saute for 5 minutes more, adding about 1/4 cup of the bean liquid so that the onions do not burn. When the onions are sweet and soft, add the beans and mash to a thick paste. Cook over low heat, uncovered, for about 5 to 8 minutes, adding bean liquid to keep the beans from drying out and burning. If you wish, season with Tabasco or hot sauce to taste. Serve hot.

A couple of notes from our experiences with this recipe. It yields a LOT of refried beans. If you're not committed to serving an army or eating them with every meal for a week, you might want to cut the recipe. Also, make sure you keep the bean liquid handy. The beans tend to dry out quickly and the liquid is important for keeping the beans from burning and thinning them to an appetizing consistency.

Bean-eatin' Music

As I did with the mole bbq sauce review, I leave you with the Texas Tornados, offering a little "Guacamole" to go with your beans.



Chef JP said...

Great recipe---I'm not familiar with The Natural Gourmet cookbook, but will seek it out asap. Regarding the needed liquid for the beans--one little cooking tip: Whenever I make a stock, I usually throw some of it in an ice cube tray and freeze it. Then, whenever I need some tasty liquid, I simply pop out a couple of cubes! Praise Jesus & pass the mustard! chefjp

sullicom said...

Great idea. Although I'd be afraid the kids would think they're popsicles. However, the entertainment value of seeing their faces when they find out they're not popsicles might be worth it!

Barbecue Bachelor said...

I normally pour screwdrivers into my ice cube tray but thats a whole other post:)
Thanks for posting the recipe. How long do you soak the dried beans for?

sullicom said...

I soak the heck out of them, usually putting them in a pot right before going to bed the night before we're going to cook them.