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The Mighty Bean

We are a family of bean lovers!  I wrote my first bean cookbook almost 30 years ago and I have a new one coming out this winter – The Mighty Bean published by Countryman Press. They both are filled with recipes we love. Refried beans are right up there with the top 5 favorites even though they are not as heart healthy as we should be eating – but you really do need that bacon fat for the depth of flavor good refried beans have.  This is about as close as I come to making a traditional Mexican refried bean.  I like to make a batch and keep it on hand for making a quick burrito, enchilada or tostada.  If you keep a can of Hatch Enchilada Sauce (which I find to be excellent) and some tortillas on hand you can have a tasty Mexican-inspired dish on the table in minutes!

Refried Beans

Serves 6

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked (see page 00)

1 cup diced onions

¼ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves – Mexican oregano is great if you can find it

Salt and pepper

1 cup bacon fat

Place the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover by 2-inches.  Add the onions, cilantro, garlic and oregano and place over high heat.  Bring to a boil; then, lower the heat and cook at a gentle simmer for about 2 hours or until the beans are very soft.  The beans should still be liquidy – if not, add water throughout the cooking process.  When the beans have softened, season with salt and pepper.

Remove from the heat and drain well, reserving the liquid.  Place the beans in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade and, with the motor running, add the cooking liquid a bit at a time.  The beans should be a bit rough – do not puree.

Place ½ cup of the bacon fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the beans and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes incorporating the fat into the beans as you stir.  Cook until the beans are a bit dry.

Remove the beans from the heat and let cool.

Then, return to the heat and, using the remaining ½ cup of bacon fat, repeat the frying process.  You may not need to use all of the fat.  

Serve as a side dish or as a topping for tostadas or as a filling for burritos and/or enchiladas.

Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  May be frozen.  Reheat before using.

NOTE:  When frying the beans for the first go-round, you may add finely diced onions, tomatoes and/or minced garlic to the mix.

You can also incorporate 2 cups of shredded queso blanco or Monterey jack cheese just before serving.

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