Over the years I’ve tried repeatedly to make refried beans from scratch, but my family has been only lukewarm about my attempts, preferring their old standby Rosarita brand refried beans. Rosarita beans are sold in cans that have bpa in the lining. Not cool. But my kids love refried beans, so I found myself torn every time I shopped. Buy the beans they love and subject them to endocrine disruption or suffer the consequences of grumbling, hungry teens at home? Poison them or starve them do death? (Okay, I jest.)
My friend Jane and I had discussed our inability to replicate Rosarita beans at home, so when she told me she’d found a great recipe that her family liked, I had to try it. I changed it up a tiny bit, and increased the recipe so that I’d have plenty left over. I prefer pinto beans, but Jane uses black beans, kidney beans, and small red beans, too. Mix or match, as you like.
6 cups dry pinto beans
3 small onions, quartered
4 cloves garlic
6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon chili powder
Put dry beans in a large pot and add enough water to cover the beans by 4-5″ or so. Soak eight hours or overnight. Drain beans then add onions and garlic to the pot. Add water to cover beans by 3″. Cover the pot, but tilt the lid so that air can escape to prevent boil overs. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour and a half until beans are tender.
Use a slotted spoon to scoop out the cooked beans, onions, and garlic, and whir in a food processor until beans are a creamy consistency. (I like to leave some beans whole and toss them in at the end.) If you don’t have a food processor, get out your potato masher – that’ll work, too. If the beans are too thick for you, add some of the cooking liquid until you’re happy with the consistency. Stir in remaining ingredients. Refrigerate or freeze for later use, or serve immediately. Makes approximately the equivalent of 10 – 16oz cans of refried beans.
I’ve just recently acquired a pressure cooker so I use that for cooking beans way faster. If you use one, too, simply put the beans, onions, and garlic in the cooker covered by 2″ of water. Be certain that the level of ingredients doesn’t go above the level recommended by the manufacturer. You can’t fill these cookers up to the top. Each model is different, but once you have the ingredients in your cooker and properly sealed, set it to “high pressure” and cook over high heat until they reach full pressure. Lower the heat to medium, and maintain high pressure for ten minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool until pressure is released naturally. Proceed with the recipe, as above.