Saturday, January 26, 2008

Frijoles Refritos

Classic Mexican Refried Beans

In order to make authentic and delicious refried beans, and keep your cowboy happy, of course, you need to start by making Frijoles de la Olla (Mexican Pot Beans). If you've already got some Frijoles in the freezer and you've just been waiting for the Frijoles Refritos recipe, go ahead and start thawing them out. You'll need about 4 cups of Pot Beans.

This recipe is also from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen, one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. Buy it if you can find a copy, you won't be sorry.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups, 6 generous servings

2 Tablespoons lard (I don't measure this. You shouldn't either. Just use a generous amount)

1 medium white onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

4 cups undrained, seasoned cooked beans (you can use practically any variety here, either canned or homemade), preferably slightly warm for easy mashing

Salt, if necessary

About 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Mexican queso fresco, queso anejo, pressed, salted farmer's cheese, dry feta or Parmesan, for garnish

Handful of tortilla chips, for garnish

1. Frying and mashing the beans. In a large (10- to 12-inch) well-seasoned or nonstick skillet, heat the lard over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 10 minutes. (just like you did for your Frijoles de la Olla). Stir in the garlic, cook for a minute or so, then use a slotted spoon to scoop in about 1/4 of the beans, leaving most of the liquid behind. With a potato masher or the back of a large spoon, mash the beans into a coarse puree. Add another portion of the beans, mash them in, and continue until all of the beans have been added and coarsely mashed.

Add about a cup of bean liquid (or water if you have no liquid) and stir frequently over the heat until the beans are still a little soupier than you'd like to serve them (they'll thicken as they sit--[Rick likes his] finished beans the consistency of soft mashed potatoes). The total cooking and mashing time will take 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, if necessary.

2. Serving the beans. Spoon the beans onto a warm serving platter (or onto individual plates), sprinkle with crumbled cheese, decorate with tortilla chips, and they're ready.

Advance Preparation: The finished beans can be covered and refrigerated for several days. Add more water or bean liquid, as needed, to thin them while reheating.

We like to roll these up in tortillas with some queso fresco and salsa. Or sometimes serve 'em on the side of our famous Grilled Lamb Tacos. Yeehaw!

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