Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Poblano Refried Beans

I love refried beans.  Canned or from scratch, at home or in a restaurant, to me they are the ultimate comfort food.  Traditionally, refried beans are cooked pinto beans that are fried in lard and mashed ("refrito" actually means "well-fried," not "re-fried").  Of course I don't cook with lard.  Ew.  I actually haven't seen any canned refried beans made with lard, either.  They're either made with vegetable oil, or they're fat free, which would mean they aren't fried at all.  But they still taste great.

I usually avoid cooking with oil, unless I am really convinced the recipe will suffer without it.  Since I like the fat free canned refried beans just fine, I don't use oil when I make refried beans from scratch.  I use my own recipe, which I adapted from the one here.  And this week, I've been making an exciting variation with roasted poblano peppers.

Basic Slow Cooker "Refried" Beans

Pinto beans, as many as you want to cook (I love refried beans, so I cook anywhere from 2 to 4 cups of dry beans at a time).  No need to presoak.
Yellow onion, chopped
Whole garlic cloves, peeled and trimmed

Exact amounts are not critical here.  For this batch, I used 2 cups of dry beans, one big yellow onion, and five or six cloves of garlic.

I have a cooker with 3 different sized crocks.  Fun!

Put the beans, onions, and garlic in your slow cooker crock.  Add water to cover by at least two inches.  Cook on High until they are really soft.  Anywhere from 8 to 12 hours should be fine.  I like to set up the slow cooker after dinner, and then let the beany, oniony, garlicky aroma wake me up the next morning.

The next day, turn off the cooker and drain the beans, reserving the thick, rich liquid.  Now it's time to mash the beans.  I use my immersion blender for this, but you could just use a potato masher.  After all that slow cooking, the beans will be very soft.

Now season to your liking.  I thought a tablespoon of salt would be about right, but it turned out to be too much.  Desperate to salvage all those over-salted beans, I threw in some black beans I had in the refrigerator, and mashed them up.  Turns out I really like that combination, and will probably be using it from now on.  The black beans are less mushy than the pintos, and stay more intact for a nice color and texture contrast.

You could stop right there and have perfectly good beans.  But I took it a step further, and mixed in a couple tablespoons of chopped poblano peppers.

 Here's a closeup of some beany goodness.  You can see the little flecks of black beans and poblanos.

Now it's time to serve the beans.  You could do all sorts of yummy things at this point -- make tacos, tostadas, Mexican lasagna . . . . but lately I've just been eating them plain, with some  kale and corn. I really like the contrast of textures and the bitter, sweet, creamy party in my mouth.

Mmm, mmm, good!


  1. Who doesn't love refried beans? I have a quick recipe I make on the stove. Takes 15 min tops!

  2. refried beans are one of my favorite foods too. It's funny cause they sound so unhealthy but they are really pretty good for you!