Saturday, June 2, 2012

Easy Refried Beans

If you've never made refried beans before, no worries. They are so easy, you'll wonder why you never made them before.

fully cooked beans - black and pinto are great, but lots of beans taste good this way, so experiment. :-)
fat of some kind - we usually use olive oil, but animal fats are very good with this, too.
liquid - we use a little reserved broth from cooking the beans, but water or broth would do as well.

1. Heat up a skillet that is NOT non-stick and melt/heat the fat in it. Start out with at least a 2 Tb. for about 1-2 cups of beans. You can increase this later if there's not enough fat. Add some salt if the fat itself is not salted. This should be salty, but not crazy salty.
2. Add your beans to the skillet - I've done just a cup or two at a time to cups and cups at a time. You can do large batches without an issue with this recipe. With refried beans, soft beans are better, so if your beans are a little on the al dente side of things, you may want to cook them some more before starting this recipe.
3. Once the beans have heated, get out a potato masher and mash the crud out of the beans, mixing them with the oil that way. This is why you don't want a non-stick skillet, because you'll completely mess up the coating on it when you mash. If you don't have a potato masher, you can mash them against the side and bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon, too. Some people like a very runny, almost porridge-like consistency to their refried beans. If that's you, you want to mash every single bean. Some people like some whole beans mixed with the mashed ones for their beans, so in that case, mash about 2/3 of the beans and leave some unmashed.
4. Now comes the liquid and fat. Check the consistency of your beans. If too dry, add a little bean water/broth/water to them and stir it up to see how it looks. If it's still too dry, then add a little fat. Check again and repeat until you get a good consistency. Too much fat and it will separate and not mix well with the beans, with an oily sheen floating on top. Too much liquid is easy to fix, however, and you can just cook it a bit more as it evaporates.  I haven't been able to get a dish of porridge-like refried beans without a little liquid added, but sometimes we have made a thicker refried bean without liquid and the taste is fine.

Inspired by:
Growing up in the southwest. This is one of the few foods I've made for years that I can still make with my food issues, as long as I find safe beans. I suppose it's become kind of a comfort food, now!

What would make it better:
We often add things to the beans, or mix them with foods, for a variety of tastes. Green or red chile, salsa, rice, avocado, grilled tomato pieces, browned ground beef or buffalo. We'll use whatever works. It's good with cheese or sour cream, for those who can have that, of course. Nice dip for chips if you can eat any.

LOW HISTAMINE - This should be low histamine diet compliant, at least on the lists I'm finding. Kidney beans are a 'no' on some lists.

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