One of my favorite sides at a Mexican restaurant is the refried beans. When made well, they are so good. Creamy and velvety, with a hint of smokiness and great bean flavor. Whenever I would make Mexican food I'd pine away for refried beans, convinced that they took hours to make properly and therefore wouldn't be something I could easily replicate at home. And don't even talk to me about the canned variety. We tried them once and that was enough.
Then Annie's post on Refried Beans popped up on my Google Reader shortly before Cinco de Mayo. Homemade refried beans that take less than 20 minutes to make and taste great? Sold!
I prepared these ahead of time and reheated them for dinner. All I can say is wow. They tasted just like my favorite restaurant version only I knew exactly what was in them and how much fat I'd used. I opted not to add the salsa or scallions because my favorite refried beans are just beans and seasoning, but I did melt some cheese on top. While I added in the cooked bacon to this batch, next time I'll leave it out. I prefer smooth refried beans and the little pieces of bacon were a distraction. SP said I should just save it for BLTs. Smart man!
This is an easy recipe to double or triple for a party. One 15-oz can made enough for four servings, along with Mexican Sour Cream Rice and chicken tacos.
Photo update April 2014: My friend T took a great pic of these beans so I wanted to update the post.
Slightly Modified from Elly Says Opa, as seen on Annie’s Eats
2 strips bacon (or 2 tablespoons bacon grease)
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or 1½ cups cooked pinto beans)
Salt and pepper
1 cup chicken or veggie broth, divided
If you don't have any bacon grease handy - heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, being careful not to burn it. Remove the bacon pieces to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease in the pan. (Save the bacon for another use, like BLTs)
If you have bacon grease handy, add it to a medium skillet. Melt it over medium-high heat, then add the onion to the pan. Cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin and cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Add the beans to the pan. Season with a bit of salt and pepper (you can add more later, don't oversalt). Pour in 2/3 cup of the broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a light simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Mash the bean mixture as desired. For a chunkier texture, use a fork or potato masher. For a smoother texture, pulse the mixture in a food processor (this is what I do). Add up to 1/3 cup more broth for a lighter texture and adjust seasonings to taste.
Reheating - These reheated wonderfully in the microwave. No need to take up space on the stove or dirty another pan.