Refried Pinto Beans (Frijoles Refritos)

Few dishes are more basic to southwestern cuisine than the beloved Frijoles. A good helping of them is a standard sight at lunch, dinner, and sometimes even breakfast. Here’s a simple vegan preparation (though they’re no longer  prepared with lard as often as they once were, still, take care to ask if you have them in a restaurant). Serve alongside the southwestern egg dishes in tortilla specialties that don’t themselves contain beans, such as Stacked Squash and Bell Pepper Enchiladas.

Serves: 6 to 8

  • 1 2/3 cup uncooked pinto beans
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

Soak the beans overnight. Drain and rinse them and place them in a large soup pot with plenty of fresh water.

Add the onion and 1/2 tablespoon of the oil, bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over very low heat until the beans are quite tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. A good test of the desired texture is to press a bean between the thumb and forefinger; if it feels soft and mealy, it’s done. Drain and store the beans until they’re needed.

When you’re ready to “refry” the beans, heat the remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add the cooked pinto beans and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes. Mash the beans coarsely with a mashing implement.

Add the salt and cook, covered, adding small amounts of water until the beans have the consistency of a very thick sauce. Serve at once or cover and keep warm until serving.

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