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! I pureed all the beans but next time I'll remove some beforehand to stir back in once the rest are pureed, per SP's request.
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.
Slightly Modified from Elly Says Opa, as seen on Annie’s Eats
2 strips bacon
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper
1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or 1½ cups cooked pinto beans)
1 cup chicken or veggie broth, divided
1/4 cup salsa (optional)
Shredded cheese and sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp, being careful not to burn. 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)
Add the onion to the pan with the bacon grease and cook until just tender, about 4-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, cayenne, and cook until fragrant, about 30-60 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the beans to the pan. Pour in about 2/3 cup of the broth, bring to a boil, and reduce to a light simmer. Let simmer for about 10 minutes or until the beans are soft enough to mash easily.
Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the salsa if using, and 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. Add up to 1/3 cup more broth for a lighter texture if needed. Adjust seasonings to taste. Top with shredded cheese and sliced scallions. Serve.
Reheating - These reheated wonderfully in the microwave. No need to take up space on the stove or dirty another pan.