I am a true Mexican food fanatic. I grew up in Los Angeles, so it’s part and parcel of my childhood. I usually rate a restaurant based on their refried beans; maybe it’s silly, but if they can’t get these right, I’m usually less than impressed with the more complex dishes. As the mum of two small children, I don’t have a lot of time to soak beans from scratch, but this recipe using tinned pinto and black beans is so tasty, you’ll hardly know the difference.
Refried beans can be pretty calorific if you use traditional methods, like including pork fat or lard as your “fat”. For sure it tastes amazing to use drippings, but I can’t handle that much grease, and I don’t keep lard on hand. For this recipe, I use 50/50 butter and veg oil for frying the onions and spices, and the flavour is just as rich. My daughter loves these beans so well, she asked for a bowl to herself. I like them in tacos and burritos, or with a handful of tortilla chips for dipping. This may be a side dish or the star of the show, but it’s easy and fresh. I doubt you’ll go for tinned refried beans again.
- 425g/15oz tin pinto beans
- 425g/15oz tin black beans
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 1 tablespoon veg oil
- ¼ cup chopped white onion
- 1 heaped teaspoon mild diced chilies (I use a small tin of fire roasted diced chilies for flavour, not heat)
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chicken stock concentrate, or 1 stock cube
- 3-4 cups of water
- Salt and pepper to taste
Open and drain your beans, but don’t rinse them so that you keep some of their own liquid.
In a wide pan, bring the oil and butter to heat together over a medium-high heat before adding your onions.
Coat the onions in the oil/butter and begin to lightly fry before adding your diced chilies and dry spices.
Allow the spices and chilies to fry lightly for about a minute before adding the drained beans.
Coat the beans with the onion mixture and bring to temperature, allowing the bean liquid to begin to evaporate/reduce. This offers a little frying to some of the beans, before we cover the lot with stock.
Add your chicken stock concentrate and enough water to just cover the beans. Give it all a good stir, cover the pot and reduce to a medium-low heat.
Once the beans are boiling away, covered in a pressure cooker environment, they’ll soften even more, and take on the spices and chicken flavour. I usually allow them to boil for about 20 minutes, topping up the water if it begins to stick on the bottom.
After 20 minutes or so, uncover and bring out the potato masher, if you want to crush the beans. You don’t need to do this, but the smooth consistency of restaurant beans won’t be matched without some smashing.
Once I’ve mashed the beans, I add another ¼ or ½ cup of water to loosen the beans and help them cool down. I go another step and use my food processor to blitz the beans once they’ve cooled a little, especially when using black beans. If you’re only using pinto beans, they’ll likely smash easily enough with the masher.
Once I’ve whizzed the beans, I add salt and pepper to taste, but the chicken stock and butter add sodium, so be sure to taste before piling on the salt.
These refried beans are ready to eat as is, or you can roll them up in a tortilla, serve with rice or chips, or put them into tacos like we did last night. I also made a quick batch of taco meat using ground turkey, and the kids gobbled it up. I hope you’ll enjoy these as well as we do, and have fun making your own restaurant-style beans.