Pinto Beans (especially to make frijoles refritos – refried beans)
• 1-1/2 pounds dried pinto beans
• baking soda
• 1 large onion, chopped fine
• 1 stick margarine (do not use the tub kind – has too much water)
• 1 tablespoon ground cumin
• 2 teaspoons black pepper
• 8 – 10 Jalapeno slices from jar
• 2 -3 teaspoons jalapeno juice from jar
• 1 – 2 teaspoons hot sauce
• 3 – 4 tablespoons chili powder (or less if you don’t like it spicy)
• 3 – 4 tablespoons Liquid Smoke – Hickory flavor (gives it the smoky flavor/aroma that it needs to replace not having pork fat or bacon in it)
• 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
• salt, to taste (see note at end)
The night before you are going to cook, clean pintos by removing all bits of foreign matter (i.e., small rocks, little twigs, etc.). Place in a large container and cover with water and add 1 tablespoon baking soda. Let the beans soak overnight.
The next morning, drain the beans and rinse very well, until the water runs clear. (If you have trouble with beans giving you gas, one little trick is to put the beans on to boil with another tablespoon or two of baking soda and boil them until the water gets very foamy. Just remove the foam with a spoon and continue to boil until you are not getting foam anymore. This removes a lot of the gas-producing whatever it is from the beans.) Pour the beans into a large pot or a large crockpot. Add the onion, stick of butter, and all spices EXCEPT salt. Cover all with enough water that it covers about 2 inches over the top. If you like soupy beans (which my mom makes them that way – she doesn’t particularly care for mine because they’re not runny LOL), add more water. I personally like mine thicker.
If cooking on the stovetop, turn the burner on high and bring to a quick boil, uncovered, then immediately turn the temp down to low, cover, and let cook until the beans are tender (can take all day depending on how low you turn the burner). Add salt at this point.
- If cooking in the crockpot, you can cook the beans on high or on low, depending on how fast you want them to cook. On high, it takes about 3 – 4 hours; on low, it will take 6 – 8 hours. Add salt at this point when they’re tender.
Taste the liquid once the beans begin to get soft to adjust seasonings if you need more of something, such as the Liquid Smoke, or you want them spicier and need to add more hot sauce or chili powder. Once you know how you want them spiced up, then you can add that amount at the beginning rather than later. All of the spice measurements are approximations because I have never used a recipe to make these. It’s all been based on taste and experience.
To make them into refried beans, you can do it the traditional way by mashing the beans (some mashed into a paste and others leaving them lumpy) and then frying them in oil (they were originally fried in lard). Or you can do what I do, since the way I make them the liquid is thick.
I just take however much I want to mash and use my “boat motor” (as Emeril calls it) and mash them that way, or you can use a potato masher, whatever you have handy, making sure you add some of the liquid, as they will get dry. Then I coarsely mash some more of the beans and add them to the finely mashed beans and there you have them. They might not have quite the same flavoring because of not having used more oil to fry them in, but I find that the flavor is really quite nice… I actually had one of our church members not long ago ask me for my recipe because she said they tasted so much like the ones that her mother used to make when she was a little girl and they had them every day… and she’s originally from Mexico… so they can’t be all bad.
NOTE: You NEVER add salt at the beginning when cooking beans because the beans will not get tender if you do. They will remain hard and, no matter what you do, you cannot get them to become soft and tender like you will want them, especially if you intend to make refried beans with them.
Serve the beans with cornbread, jalapeno cornbread, over rice, or even with fried potatoes and onions (my personal favorite). This is a delicious meal and the beans will keep for two or three days covered in the refrigerator. You can also freeze them and they will keep for a month or two. Just make sure not to leave much head space if you freeze them so they don’t form ice crystals on top. I’ve actually done them in freezer bags and squeezed all the air out and they did better that way than in a container.
P.S. I just hope I’ve remembered all the spices that go in this recipe. If I find I haven’t, I’ll return and adjust it the next time I make them.