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Refried is a misnomer

April 14, 2010

Did you know that?  Refried beans are NOT REfried…nope, they’re only fried once…and only if you want to!

Last year when I took on the challenge to begin making things from scratch, one of the things that I figured on being easy but was a bit fearful were beans.  I mean, they’re DRY to start with and I was always afraid I would over or under soak them…I wouldn’t cook them long enough…I’d cook them too long…etc…

I’m hear to tell you, DON’T BE AFRAID!

It’s really very simple.  I pretty much make a batch of beans at least every two weeks since.  Mostly it’s pinto beans, but I have been known to make black beans as well.

First, put the beans in a container with water:

20100411 013 You want to start out with at least double the water, but this is something that I just keep on eye on throughout time.  I usually put them in on Friday evening when I get home from work.  In this container I put two cups of beans and filled with water.

After a few hours, it looks like this:

20100411 083 In the morning it looked like this:

20100411 093 You may need to add more water, just make sure that they are always completely covered with water.  Now, you can read other places to put exactly X amount of water for X amount of beans, however I have found that sometimes X is too much and other times X is not enough…so, just keep an eye on it.  If you start with a 1:2 ratio you’re pretty well off.

After about 8 hours of soaking, drain them in a colandar and rinse (sorry no picture), then put them in a pot on the stove and set on VERY LOW heat:

20100411 094Add enough water to completely cover and add another 1-2 inches above that. By low, I’m talking I put it on the 1!  This is a LONG and SLOW process.

Then cover the pot. 

20100411 095 You can see that I like to tilt the lid a bit.  I find when it’s completely covered things don’t go as well and this way the smell wafts through the house and I have found that I can tell by smell when to go to the next step…after awhile you’ll get to know it as well.

After about 2 hours, add some fat.  I had fried some bacon and had bacon fat waiting; I also have lard on hand when I don’t have bacon fat:

20100411 096 Add about 2 TBS.  You can add more if you like, but remember I am trying to cut the fat and I have found this is enough for us.

20100411 097 Mix the fat in there a bit, keep it on low, and keep cooking with the lid on.  After 4 hours, I keep checking it every hour.  It will look like this:

20100411 100 Basically, the spots pretty much come off, but you really have to try them out.  See how mushy it is…you want them to be all soft.

Once they are all soft, get out your blender.  Okay, confession, you can mash by hand; but I have found that my husband enjoys them better if I blend the bejeezus out of them…they’re more like the canned kind and that’s what he wants. 

I have tried to hand mash them but he didn’t go for it at all!

So, spoon only about 2 cups into the blender at a time, start with just 1-2 cups:

20100411 108

Then, take a cup of the juices and add that.  It will help everything blend better; but you DO NOT want ALL the juice, just about a cup.

20100411 110

Keep some of the juice in reserve just in case you might need more, but usually it’s just this cup that gets things going.  Otherwise, when you blend it won’t blend very well.

20100411 112

So, blend that first batch then add some more:

20100411 114

I like to keep mushing the new spoonfuls down to make sure that’s what is getting chopped the most.  You will not need to add more juice, just keep adding the beans.

After it’s all blended (or while it’s blending, but I like to use the same pot so I wait until after it’s all blended), chop up an onion and garlic. 

These are “to taste”, however much you like.  I LOVE garlic but have to restrain myself to two cloves.  Some people don’t use garlic at all.  It’s up to you:

20100411 102 You’ll want to mince the garlic.  I do this by actually grating it over a fine grater.  I like it better this way than with the garlic presses and it’s finer chop than with the knife.

20100411 104 20100411 105I also do a rough chop of the onion.  Chop as fine or big as you like.20100411 115 In the pot, add a TBS of oil:

20100411 116 Once the oil is heated, add that garlic and onion:

20100411 121 Cook until the onions are translusent and there is a good yummy smell coming up from the pan:

20100411 124 Then…ADD THE BEANS back in!  Spoonful by spoonful, heat and, somewhat fry, the beans back in that pot.

20100411 125 Mix it well with the onions and garlic and heat through:

20100411 128 Put it in a container to cool (if you are saving for later).  Once it’s cool, put the lid on and refrigerate:

20100411 129

So, it may seem like a lot to do; the truth is it’s just time consuming.  In the end, it’s totally worth it!

I hope I aleviated some of the fear that someone out there might have in trying to cook beans from scratch.  It really is a very simple process and so rewarding with so much less fat and none of those chemicals they use in the canning process.

Stay tuned this week, we still have another cookie recipe, a pork recipe, and much more to come!

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