Like I've said before, we eat a lot of Mexican food at home. I used to buy cases of refried beans from Costco to use in our Mexican concoctions, but I decided to try making it myself. I figured it probably wasn't too difficult and that it'd be healthier and cheaper this way. I was right on all counts and haven't bought the canned stuff since. The only problem is that you have to plan at least a day ahead because the beans require soaking. I suppose if I skipped the soaking and just used more liquid and cooked it longer, that would work too.
We use our no-fried beans in burritos, tacos, nachos, etc, and add salsa and cheese to it for a tasty dip for chips, so even when I make a big batch, we end up finishing it all. If we ever have trouble finishing it, I'm sure that it would freeze well. Just freeze them into single serving size batches and defrost them as needed.
- Dried pinto beans
- Water or stock
- Chili powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
The day before -
- Rinse the beans and pick out any rocks or ugly beans.
- Fill a container half-way (or less) with the dried beans and then fill it to the top with water. The beans will expand A LOT, so give it room to do so. I learned this the hard way when I woke up to see that they had overflowed all over the kitchen counter.
Pressure cooker version -
- The next day, drain the beans and dump them into your pressure cooker.
- If you're using a pressure cooker, you don't need much liquid at all, so just barely cover the beans with liquid.
- You can add a bit of the seasonings if you want, or none at all. If you do season now, do so lightly. You can always add more later.*
- Cook the beans at full pressure for about 15 minutes. Then let the pressure come back down naturally.
- Open up the beans, if they're not soft yet, cook them for another 10 minutes. You don't really have to worry about overcooking them since they're going to be mashed anyway.
Crockpot/Other pot version -
(I've never done it this way, but I'm assuming this would work)
- Dump the beans into the pot and fill it with water or stock until they're covered by at least an inch.
- Add a bit of the seasonings (not too much though as the water will evaporate and the flavors will concentrate. You can always add more at the end)*
- Bring everything to a boil and then let it simmer until the beans are soft, stirring occasionally and adding more liquid when necessary.
Do for all versions -
- If there is still a lot of liquid left, pour enough of it out (but set it aside as you may want to add more later) so that the liquid covers the beans by about half an inch or less.
- Use a potato masher and mash the beans until smooth (or slightly chunky if that's the way you like it) while seasoning to taste.
- If the beans are thicker than you like, add some liquid. If it's too watery, you can cook it down a bit, but just remember that it will thicken up as it cools.
- Serve it in your favorite Mexican dishes!
*I've read that adding salt to the beans while cooking results in them splitting. I add salt while cooking and mine do split sometimes (usually just the ones on the top layer), but since I'm mashing them anyway, who cares?