Cooking With Rants: Epic Refried Beans
People who know me often comment that I’m slow on the uptake at times, saying, “You have a sucky flash-to-bang sometimes.” That’s in the context of judging how far off the thunderstorm is based on the… never mind, you get it.
So this epic flash-to-bang is my recipe for my patented refried beans. Or, RantFried Beans if you want to be formal. A few months back, I casually posted “Burrito Rage” here and as subsequent Freshly Pressed events unfolded, I became famous. Well, famouser. It remains a relative comparison. Anyway, many folks enjoyed the humor but also inquired about the recipe that inspires such gluttonous consumption.
You get the ingredient list that is based on the massive batches I make, so I’ll leave the math to you:
- Lard. Comes in a brick, sometimes also labelled as ‘manteca’ and not to be confused with Crisco. Ignore this advice at your own peril.
- Beans. Use pinto beans, sometimes called pink beans. Use a 2-lb bag of dry beans. Canned will work too, but go with six or eight cans.
- Bacon grease. Used to taste, but I put in at least four healthy tablespoons of it. Make sure there are little brown bits in what you’ve collected. Bacon!
- Salt. Enough to knock off the sweet edge of the natural bean flavor and make the whole mess delicious.
- 5-gallon pot. Used to soak and boil the dry beans. Obviously unnecessary if you go the canned bean route.
- 16″ skillet. Big helps, cast iron works best because it retains heat better.
- Potato masher. This works so much better than the back of a serving spoon, which you’ll bend the fuck out of in this endeavor.
- Ladle. For scooping out beans and/or bean juice, assuming you went with the dried bean option.
- Spoon. For sampling your glorious creation.
Using dry beans, you need to rinse and soak them overnight, then boil them until they mash between your fingers. The water will have turned a milky brown – don’t throw it away! I prefer using a 16″ cast iron skillet for the frying, but any pan large enough will work. Melt 1/4 to 1/3 of the lard brick and add the bacon grease. Heat this until water pops on it.
Scoop 1/3 of the beans into sizzling hot pan. Let them fry a good while, but not turn color. Mash them carefully with the masher until the texture is uniformly smooth and creamy. Allow to re-heat some, then repeat until all the beans are mashed. Some beans may be left unmashed for texture. If using canned beans, retain half of the total number of cans’ included juice, and add this to the mashed beans. If using soaked, cooked beans, ladle in bean juice until the consistency is moderately runny.
When the desired consistency is reached, taste the mix and then add the salt until you’re pleased with the flavor. This food will generally take up to a tablespoon of salt for a 2-pound bag of dry beans, but add it gradually to taste. Don’t add salt until this point, or the bean husks will become tough and chewy. Some other additional spices to consider based on your personal taste (dry/powdered recommended):
- Garlic. Perennial favorite, adds a nice … garlicky (duh) … flavor, which is great.
- Onion. Goes with the garlic. Does not do a lot on it’s own.
- Cumin. An SE Asian and C/American spice, this adds a good punch of flavor. Use sparingly, adding until the taste is right to you.
- Cayenne Pepper. We chili-heads likes us some heat. Add as desired. In this house, there is no such thing as too much. Habaneros are quite hot but don’t have quite the correct flavor. Those are best for beef or pork.
Refried beans are very forgiving once cooked. They keep for up to two weeks refrigerated, and they can be frozen with no change to consistency or flavor. For those desiring less lard, substitute more bean juice. Note that once cold, the beans will be increasingly hard and chalky with less fat in the mix, but heat will reduce them to burrito-rolling consistency. However, you cannot totally eliminate the lard, and no oil substitutions will really work.