When I saw Rebecca from the blog Foodie With Family tweet about these re-fried beans my interest was piqued. First because I love anything with garlic but also was just curious. Could they really be any good? Were those awful canned beans not the only solution? I knew there must be one; I’ve had some great dishes at local authentic Mexican restaurants but for some reason I’ve never considered making my own so just deleted them from any recipe that called for them since I think the canned stuff is, in the words of my daughter when she was young, ‘yuck.’ It was time to test; could Garlicky Homemade Re-Fried Beans really make a difference?
The notion that they were garlicky made them pretty appealing too; I simply love garlic. If a recipe calls for a clove; I put in two. Or three. Since Rebecca’s already called for 8 cloves, I kept it the same (though made sure they were all BIG cloves); that was a fair amount…GO REBECCA!
I’m betting if we put our beans side by side they would be an almost indiscernible difference in taste but I just love doing something different to EVERY recipe; I simply can not help myself so I did change it up just a bit. I love what caramelized onions do to the overall flavor profile of a dish so I cooked mine first before they got added to the other ingredients. I also did not have anything but dried Ancho Chile Pepper so decided to throw the pepper and the oregano into the mix with the sauteed onions…thinking a bit of heat would open them up a bit; sort of like toasting them might. Last, I used some chicken stock in lieu of just water to cover the beans. I do this with everything I make from soups to rice so why not with re-fried beans? Thankfully I did remember to eliminate salt in the recipe; mine were just about perfect; that additional salt was not necessary due to the stock being salted.
How were they? In a nutshell they were life changing. Fabulous. Deep, rich taste combined with a decidedly ‘not’ gummy texture. I like that I can define the texture too. I actually used my immersion blender but was cautious; I left larger chunks for texture and I thought they were perfect. A first for me? A re-fried beans wrap without any beef or chicken! Just some beans, cheese, pico de gallo and avocado and it was wonderful.
It didn’t hurt that I’ve recently discovered the most amazing tortillas at Costco. They’re raw and simply need a quick minute or two in a hot frying pan to brown and I’ve been using them for everything but they were made for these beans.
Rebecca calls for a wide variety of fats you can use to cook the beans in after they’ve simmer for a long time in the oven. I did use bacon and I would not change that but use what works for you. Using a vegetable oil and water or vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and you’ve got a great vegetarian dish too. I can not wait to have some neighbors over for an afternoon of these and my favorite margaritas. Come on warm weather; you’re all I need now!
Homemade Garlic Re-Fried Beans
- 1 pound (2 cups) dried pinto beans
- 1 Tbsp olive oil,
- 1/2 an onion, trimmed of both ends, peeled, and roughly chopped
- 1 Tbsp dried Ancho Chile Pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 Tbsp dry powder for chicken stock (Knorr's)
- 8 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup peanut, canola, or vegetable oil, vegetable shortening, lard, or bacon grease (I used bacon fat)
- Preheat the oven to 275°F.
- Put the pinto beans into a colander. Pick through and remove any foreign objects and dried, shriveled or dis-colored beans.
- Rinse them well and set aside.
- Put the olive oil into a large Dutch oven; heat to medium high and saute the chopped onions until almost brown. Add the Ancho Chile Powder and oregano and saute for one minute.
- Add the beans to the post and cover them with 2 to 3-inches of fresh water; add dried chicken stock, then stir in the garlic and bay leaves.
- Bring to a boil, put the lid tightly in place on the dutch oven and place in the oven for 60-90 minutes (*See notes), or until the beans are quite tender.
- Add the fat of choice to a cast-iron or other heavy-bottomed 8 to 12-inch skillet over MEDIUM HIGH heat. When it is shimmery, use a ladle to transfer about 3 cups of the cooked beans and liquid to the skillet.
- When this comes to a boil, add 2 more ladles-full of beans and liquid. Let it return to a boil and repeat the process (2 ladles then boil) until all the beans have been added then drop the heat to MEDIUM LOW.
- Stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon to help break up the beans. Keep simmering until most of the beans are broken up and the mixture is creamy and thick. There will still be some whole beans visible in the pan(**See Notes). Keep in mind that the mixture will continue to thicken as it cools.
- Taste the beans and adjust with salt if desired.
The final cooking time on the beans is largely dependent on how old your dried beans are. This doesn't necessarily mean that if you just bought them they're newer. That's okay, it's a product that's MEANT to be shelf-stable for years. Just have a little patience, add more water while it's in the oven if it starts running out too soon, and you'll be rewarded with delicious beans!
*If you want a smoother end-product, you can use a potato masher in the pan to help break up the beans while they cook. If you want an ULTRA smooth finished product, you can whirr the cooked beans in a food processor fitted with a metal blade.
As previously mentioned, I simply used an immersion blender to help break up the beans; leaving the overall mixture chunky.