May 5, 2011

Refried Beans

Beans are a great, cheap, nutritious food. My boys, however, act like they are allergic to beans - even though they ate them when they were little. At a certain point, we noticed that whenever we went out to eat, they would quickly devour bean dip with tortilla chips, even as they disdained the same beans which appeared on their plates next to the rice. Go figure. So the obvious solution was to make my own bean dip, a/k/a Frijoles Refritos, or refried beans.

Now, I know some of you like to soak dried beans and cook them all day, but I needed something that was quicker and took less preparation. After googling some recipes and a little experimenting, I came up with this:

Garlicky Refried Beans

2 cans pinto beans
3 T fat or oil (olive oil, coconut oil, lard, bacon grease, etc.)
1 or 2 cloves pressed garlic
1/2 t. onion powder
dash or two of cayenne powder (red pepper)
1/2 t. cumin (optional)
1 t. coriander  (optional)
dash or two of black pepper

salt to taste, about 1 1/2 t.
squeeze of lime juice (2 t. )

Open cans and drain the beans, reserving the liquid. Heat the oil in a cast-iron skillet or your
favorite frying pan. Add garlic and saute for just a minute, until it barely starts to brown. Dump in the beans, spices, salt, and 2 T. of the reserved bean juice. Cook on medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the beans look hot and you have had a chance to find your potato masher in the drawer. Reduce heat and mash up the beans until fairly smooth. Add as much bean juice as you need to reach the desired consistency, keeping in mind that the bean dip will thicken as it cools. I usually find that the liquid from one can of beans is just right. Add some lime juice. Stir it all up real good, scraping the bottom of the pan; and serve warm with tortilla chips.

A couple notes:
- You can use black beans instead of pinto.
- If you are not fond of garlic, skip the fresh garlic and add 1/2 t. of garlic powder instead.
- On the other hand, if you prefer your beans oniony, sautee fresh minced onion in oil instead of (or in addition to) the garlic. Adjust amounts of onion powder and garlic powder accordingly. Dried onion flakes will work as well.

Play with the amounts and kinds of spices until you find a blend that you and your family love. Yum!

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