Refried Beans (with Bacon)

Lots of people have a good refried beans recipe, and for good reason, it’s really pretty simple. I’d never made them from scratch, as I always thought it must be a complicated process. I mean they are fried once, and then refried, right? Actually, wrong. Turns out the term refried beans is just a mistranslation of frijoles refritos, which doesn’t mean RE-fried at all, just plain fried beans.

It’s easy to make vegetarian refried beans by starting with oil, but refried beans are well-known (infamous?) for containing lard. And, for good reason, it’s darn tasty. Some recipes call for rendering some bacon for the lard and then removing the pieces, but since I always love me some bacon, I left it in.

One thing I don’t understand is why all the refried beans I’ve ever had from a can or in a restaurant have such a uniform brown color. When you cook a pinto bean, the outside loses its pinto spots and turns that pinkish brown color, but the inside of the bean is white. So my refried beans always turn out a bit pale and washed out and bit unappetizing in photos. Ah, well. They sure are tasty though.

  • 3 C. dried pinto beans
  • water
  • salt
  • 8 oz. bacon, chopped (or 2 T. vegetable oil for a vegetarian version)
  • 1 medium onion, small dice
  • 1 T. chili powder

Soak the dried beans over night in a large pot, filled to the top with water. After soaking, drain the beans, cover with plenty of fresh water add some salt, bring to a boil, and simmer for about an hour, or until the beans are very tender and splitting open, but not disintegrating.

While the beans are simmering, in another large part, cook the bacon until crispy. Removing the bacon at this point is optional. (If you are making vegetarian refried beans, heat the oil for a minute or two in a large pot.) Add the diced onion to and cook on medium low heat until very soft. Add the chili powder.

Ladle off and reserve a spoonful or two of the bean broth and drain the beans. Add the drained beans to the cooked onions, and go at ’em with a potato masher. Leave the beans on the stove as you go, allowing them to continue cooking, and add bean broth as necessary to get the consistency you want.

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