Sunday, January 20, 2008

beauty is only skin deep

like they say, what counts is on the inside and not the outside.

this won't win any beauty contests, but beyond the skin of this bean lies something really good....

frijoles refritos.

another staple item used in many mexican dishes are beans of all sorts. while maybe not a number one item enjoyed by the average north american, beans provide necessary complex carbohydrates, not to mention necessary fiber in one's diet.

the following recipe is for the common bean (black) bean paste seen in virtually every mexican restaurant and home. while the final product does not exactly scream "look at me, i'm gorgeous", it is one of those things that have to be eaten to appreciate.

frijoles refritos, or refried beans, taste better a day or two after you make them. of course, the best way is to use dried black beans (or other beans of your liking) but that is time consuming and not everyone wants to go that far. if you do, don't presoak them; rather, cook them with a chopped onion and some oil or chicken fat (schmaltz) and water ~ about 3 inches above the beans until they are tender and can be squished easily between your fingers. this can take as much as 8 - 12 hours over a lower heat, depending how old the beans are. add more water as necessary but don't overdo it. the easier way is to use a can of black turtle beans which have already been cooked. follow the directions in the recipe below first to pre-prepare them for the frijoles refritos.

the finished bean paste can be frozen also with no detriment to it.

frijoles refritos — refried black beans


1 can (19 oz) black beans or beans you've cooked yourself
4 to 5 tbsp vegetable shortening or oil or schmaltz
1 small onion, chopped


if using the dried beans, see the preamble in this posting (introduction). if using the canned beans, pre-prepare them by first rinsing them completely.

place them in a pot and add 1/2 small onion and 1 tbsp oil or fat. add 3/4 of a can of water and bring to a boil. cover and let cook over low heat for about 20 minutes. add salt to taste.

to make the frijoles refritos,

place the 1/2 small onion in a pan with 4 tbsp oil or fat and cook the onion until is softened and translucent. do not brown the onion.

add half of the beans with their juices to the onions and cook over medium heat until it boils.

start to mash the beans and let it cook for about 3 minutes or so until it gets thick.

add the rest of the beans and repeat this, mashing until you get the consistency you like.

let this paste cook over medium to medium high heat until it starts to reduce.

you must stir it continually and not let it burn.

you will see it will start to reduce and your spoon will leave a division in the paste.

cook until the paste is fairly dry. you will notice the texture has changed, especially around the edges and bottom of the paste. it should still have some movement and not be a solid hard mass. taste to see if more salt is needed.

remove to a bowl and serve as desired. it will improve the next day.

keep it well covered in the fridge. freeze what you don't need for later.

reheat in a pan, with a little oil and water, especially if it is overly dry. enjoy on its own, with tortillas or tostadas, or in enchiladas or burritos.


Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Refried Beans are so delicious! There are so many gorgeous Tex-Mex dishes that contain this wonderful paste...



burekaboy — said...

hi rosa - agreed. while i'm not so crazy about how it looks, its taste makes up for what it lacks in the beauty department!

Emily DeVoto, Ph.D., said...

Arroz con frijoles - what more could one ask for?