Berlin is, without a doubt, a multi-cultural city. I hear a half dozen different languages spoken on an average train ride. There are so many different types of restaurants and a myriad of subcultures. However, there is a tragically small representation of Mexican food. What I have tried is OKAY, but something is always missing. What I wouldn’t give to be able to go and buy a decent plate of rice and beans with a tamale on the side. Real salsa eludes me.
This means that when I get a hankering for something from south of the (US) border, I have to cook it myself. Refried beans are one of those dishes that my taste buds endlessly crave. Unfortunately, this is quite an endeavor because a can of pinto beans is not to be found. This means cooking the beans from scratch. Luckily, they don’t take as long as some other varieties to cook. When I do make them, I make a lot and can freeze a few meals worth.
Since my household is currently dealing with some unfortunate health ailments, I thought this would be the perfect time to whip up a batch. This is how I make my (maybe not 100% authentic, but what I know and still delicious) refried beans.
1 package pinto beans (1lb/500g)
1 TBSP cumin
1 – 2 dried jalapeno (fresh can be use, but I don’t have access to them)
1 tsp black pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt, to taste
- Cook your beans until they are about 50% done.
- Add the onion, garlic, cumin, jalapeno and black pepper.
- Cook the beans until they are 100% done – even a little overdone is okay.
- Drain your beans. Reserve the cooking liquid. Return the beans to their pot and blend with a stick blender. I like it when they are a thick paste, but still have some chunks for consistency.
Now, you could be done at this step. The beans are tasty. Just don’t forget to salt to taste and remember to always salt after cooking or the bean skin will be tough.
However, if you really want super delicious beans, follow the next steps:
- In a pan, heat oil or lard (about 2 TBSP) over a medium-low heat. Add 1 – 2 cups beans and mix well. When the mixture is well incorporated, add about ¼ cup milk and stir well. Cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes and salt to taste (if you didn’t after step 4). It does not look attractive. Beans are not always the most beautiful food in the world, but they sure are tasty!
- Serve hot in a fresh tortilla with your favorite toppings.
- These beans freeze well, just do it before adding the fat and milk. You can do that step when you reheat them.
- Feel free to add your favorite flavors to the beans while they are cooking. A bell pepper gives the beans a nice flavor.
- Your leftover bean liquid can be used to make a tasty soup. Thin the soup out with a bit of broth or water and add diced peppers, rice and whatever leftover meat or veggies you may have.
- These can be made in the crockpot.
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