A few days ago I started having gigantic cravings for refried beans. We make refried black beans pretty often. This time, though, I wanted some serious restaurant blitz, and that meant pinto beans.
I was expecting to have to find some trick to making actual restauranty refried beans. My black beans are always super rough, hard to mash, and filled with chunks of onion and hot pepper and corn besides. I was all ready to experiment for a week to find out how to make this totally different style of beans.
Then I soaked some beans, boiled them, and mashed them in a pan with butter. They suddenly became refried beans. That was it.
All right then!
Real refried beans
Soak the beans in twice their depth of water overnight. I generally use about a cup and a half of dry beans.
The next day, dump your beans and water into a big pot with a lid. You can add a bay leaf here if you want. Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and simmer for at least an hour. Longer is good. Get your beans falling-down soft.
When the beans are done, drain them. Heat a big frying pan, melt some butter or oil into it, and add your beans. Start mashing them right away with the back of your spoon or a potato masher. If your beans are soft enough, they'll just melt into a big messy puree.
Add a cup or so of water (or spare broth), stir to blend, and cook on medium high, stirring up bits from the bottom of the pan every few minutes. Keep cooking until the beans are a good texture for you. Mix in a couple pinches of salt. Taste. Are they good? Then you are done.
Things to do with pinto beans:
- make tacos with whatever cheese/salsa/vegetables you want
- use as plain chip dip for instant dinner
- make them a layer in a serious advanced seven-layer dip
- eat with rice and salsa in a big bowl
- put in enchiladas
We were STARVING at about ten at night when the beans were ready, but we decided to take the time to make enchiladas anyway. It was a really, really good idea.
We also cooked the enchiladas and the sauce separately, but it clearly would have been awesome to cook everything all together. If you want to cook things separately, start with enchiladas and make sauce while they're in the oven. If you want to bake the enchiladas in sauce, do it the other way around. Bake the enchiladas in sauce.
Enchiladas with mole
cheese if you want
For sauce: Get out a frying pan, heat it up, and start adding spices. We added a couple good shakes of chili powder, cinnamon, and marjoram, plus a bit less cayenne. John says we didn't add any cumin, but we think that would be good. Add a handful of sesame seeds and start warming everything over medium-low heat.
While spices are toasting, break off a couple squares of good dark chocolate from one of your semisweet baking bars. Chop them into little bits with a big knife. When the spices are nice and fragrant, add the chocolate and maybe half a cup of water. Stir it all together to melt the chocolate and start infusing it with all the spice. Cook slowly for maybe ten minutes, stirring often and adding water if necessary.
For bare-bones enchiladas: Fill tortillas with big spoonfuls of beans. Roll them up and put them in a casserole dish. If you want cheese, put shreds of cheese on top. We had mozzarella, which is not the optimal choice but tasted fine. If you want to cook the enchiladas in sauce, cover them with sauce and handfuls of extra sesame seeds, then bake at around 325 or 350F; otherwise just bake, then top with sauce and seeds afterward. They are done when everything is hot through and smells so good you can't stand to leave it in the oven for one more minute.