Recipe: Authentic Refried Beans
This is a family recipe that I have honed throughout the years. It can be served as a side dish, as a bean dip, or in any way you might use refried beans. It is not a complicated recipe, but it does take time.
1 lb dried pinto beans, soaked overnight in water.
6 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1-1/2 cups rendered bacon fat (or lard)
3 dried New Mexico chilies
3 dried California chilies
2 dried Chipotle chilies
Step 1: Flavor Infusion
Melt bacon fat in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilies. (Note: add chilies into the pot by cutting them into pieces (scissors work best) and putting skins and seeds into the fat.) Fry the seasonings until the onions and garlic are dark golden brown, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Strain the fat, removing all onions, garlic, and chili remnants. You will lose some of the bacon fat in this process (between ¼ and ½ a cup); it will be a reddish color when finished.
Step 2: Cook the Beans
Rinse the beans from the soaking water. Add the beans to pot with flavored grease. Add water to cover beans with and an inch extra. More water may be needed later. Simmer the beans at medium to low heat until very tender, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Step 3: Smash the beans until thick consistency is obtained. Serve.
Substitutions and Variances
- You can add more or use less chilies based on your personal taste preferences for spice. I have found that some years chilies are spicier than others, and using this exact combination can yield new flavor every time.
- You can use different flavors of dried chilies than what I’ve listed.
- You can add grated cheese to the final product for a creamier flavor.
- You can use lard or shortening, but bacon fat works best!
- You can use vegetable shortening to make a vegetarian dish.
- You can substitute some of the pinto beans for black beans for a different flavor.
- You can substitute canned pinto beans (Sun Vista is the best brand.) Be sure to rinse the beans well before cooking.