Friday, April 10, 2009

Refried Beans

Refried Beans aren't exactly an expensive food. You can find Amy's Organics for $2.25 a 1 lb can. And this recipe takes a lot of work and a long time. But the difference in taste between the canned and the homemade is enormous, and you will save $1.62 per pound (70%) This recipe strays a bit from my first source: "Twice-Cooked (Refried) Beans" recipe in Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. There aren't that many flavors here, which is part of what makes it work. Recipe: 1 Large Onion, Chopped 2 Tablespoons Cumin Ground (I toast it whole and rough grind it in a mortar and pestle) 1 lb Bag Dried Pintos 1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil 2 tsp Salt pinch of Red Pepper Flakes
  • Soak the beans overnight, at least 8 hours, in enough water to cover them by a good inch or two.
  • Drain the beans, then cover them in water by an inch or two.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for at least two hours. (Sorry, I'm at 4,000 ft so it took me close to three hours. Cooking times may vary.)
  • Drain the beans, reserving the liquid. (We'll just use a little, I used the rest to stretch a soup stock out.)
  • Put enough oil in a large skillet (cast iron is great here) just to cover the bottom, then bring it up to medium heat.
  • Drop in the pepper for ten seconds.
  • Add the onion, stir it once, then add half of the salt.
  • Cook until the onion starts to brown, about ten minutes.
  • Add the cumin (it will be a lot) and cook for one minute.
  • Add the remaining oil and raise the heat to high until the oil comes to temperature.
  • Add the beans and remaining salt, turn off the heat, and use a potato masher (or a fork, if you're a masochist) to mash the beans to the consistency you want. Add in the reserved liquid as necessary for consistency, one tablespoon at a time.
You'll have about three pounds of refried beans--they reheat easily and should store well in the fridge. Cost: Onion: $.25 Cumin: $.10 Pintos: $1.25 Oil: $.25 Total: $1.85, about 3 lbs. Prices above are from my local supermarket, except the cumin. Grocery store cumin costs about $.50 a tablespoon, and depending on your neighborhood it will likely have been sitting there for a long time. But if you live in an area with any Asian or Mexican population you should be able to find a an Indian or Chinese grocer or a bodega that sells big bags of cumin very inexpensively. And you can bet it turns over quickly, so despite the low price you don't have to worry about it having sat on the shelf for a year or two as it may have in a supermarket.


  1. I'm off to make them now. Will post later about how they turned out. Thanks for the recipe

  2. Okay,

    So I think the seasoning is great. They were very easy to make just time consuming waiting for them to cook but after that it was smooth sailing. Mine took 2 hours to become super soft. I added some garlic to the onions. Next time I make them I would like to add some mild hatch chili's and I am going to blend them in my food processor to get them really creamy. Thanks for the recipe!