Mexican refried beans. You either love them or hate them. I easily lean on the side on loving refried beans. I must admit that I probably was not a real fan of these until I moved to Dallas, Texas in my young adult life. It was apparent that in southwest, refried beans were a real staple on many Tex-Mex plates. Dallas was also the place where I really fell in love with Tex-Mex food.
There are also the type of refried beans that differ in texture. You know the type, the kind you get that are fairly soupy, and those that are thicker, like a nice batch of mashed potatoes. The thicker ones are the ones I tend to like, the ones that can be lathered on a tortilla to make a chimichanga, or further more, the base of many Mexican dishes, whether they be huevos rancheros, molletes, or tortas. I often eat them by themselves, much like I would if I were to snack on a bowl of mashed potatoes. Refried beans are heavenly, and are a must make.
- 1 lb of pinto beans, cooked according to direction
- 1 large onion, cut in half
- 1/2 head of garlic, plus 4 cloves
- 5 strips of bacon, reserved bacon fat
- salt, to taste
- shredded jack cheese, optional
You have choices when cooking the beans. If you planned ahead, you can soak them overnight, otherwise, if you had an after thought, you can quickly bring them to a boil, and once boiled, set them aside, and let them sit for about one hour. Whatever you do here, make sure you filter the beans, skimming through them before you cook them, removing any rocks or other strange finds. Trust me, you will find something, and the last thing you want to bite into is some sort of pebble!
So, I went with the quick cook method, and after an hour of sitting in the boiled water, I drain them, and add them back to a large pot, adding more fresh water, about 2-3 inches above the beans. Return back to the stove, add in the half bulb of garlic with skin on, and half of the large onion, and bring to a boil. Once boiled, cover, and simmer for another hour, if not longer. Check the beans on the hour mark and check the tenderness. If they are tender, then we can move onto the next step.
During the cooking time, finely chop the remaining half onion, and the four cloves of garlic, as well as cook the bacon in a large, deep skillet. You want the bacon fat here, and you know what you can do with the bacon. That can be your snack, or if you live in a house full of kids that just love bacon, well, enough said.
Once the beans are tender, take about one cup of the bean water, and set aside. This will be used during our mashing process. Remove the onion and the garlic.
Warm up the bacon fat on medium heat. Add in the onion and garlic, and let this cook down for a few minutes. Add in the cooked pinto beans, and mix well. Season with about one teaspoon of salt. Add in about half of the reserved water, and begin to mash. If you have a potato masher, get it out, and get your arms a working. Mash for a few minutes, making sure you continue to mix everything with the masher. Mash to your desired texture, and add more water if necessary. Continue to cook on medium heat for a few more minutes.
Plate, and serve with a bit of shredded cheese on top.