If you've ever wanted to make your own Refried Beans, this is the best recipe! These are easier than you might imagine and so delicious!
Beans, beans, the musical fruit...... Beans do have a poor reputation, don't they? But THESE beans, well, I could probably live on these beans.
My friend Marta has made these for lunch, for dinner, AND for breakfast! That's right, spread them on a tortilla, put a fried egg on top and enjoy! So you really could live on these!
Debbie is our resident Latin food expert and the first time she had these "not" refried beans she wanted the recipe.
One of the secrets is that these are not fried or refried. They are cooked and re-cooked, but with very little oil, making this a healthy-ish version of the classic recipe.
What is Epazote?
The second secret is the addition of an herb often found in Latin cooking, not so much here in the US. The herb is epazote (epa•zōtā).
Epazote, in addition to helping reduce the flatulence that often results from eating high fiber beans, has many other nutritional benefits. Here is a good article on the benefits of epazote.
How to Make Healthy-ish Refried Beans
- I get the best results when I soak the beans overnight. But I have also absolutely done the quick soak method sometimes. But, if you can, soak the beans overnight.
- In the morning, drain the beans using a colander and rinse them.
- Leave them in the colander and fill the same pot about half to two-thirds of the way with water.
- Bring the water to a boil then add the beans. The water should cover the beans by about 1". If there's too much water, use a heat resistant measuring cup or large ladle to remove some of the liquid.
- To the beans add one-quarter of a large onion, a stem of epazote, some unpeeled garlic cloves, and salt. DO NOT STIR! This is important.
- Partially cover the pot and bring the mixture back to a slow boil. Adjust the heat so this doesn't boil over; the water should be maintained at a very low boil.
- After about 15 minutes skim any foam that has risen to the top. Again, do not stir! Cook for a total of 30 to 45 minutes until the beans are tender and creamy. Skim any more foam that may rise to the surface.
- Remove the onion, garlic, and epazote from the pot.
Sauté and Mash
- In a large frying pan sauté the chiles and sliced onion until chiles are charred. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
- Add a third of the beans to the pan and mash using a potato masher or back of a wooden spoon. You can add a bit of the bean broth to keep the mixture moist if necessary.
- Add the next third of the beans and continue to mash. They don't need to ALL be mashed, keeping a nice mix of whole and mashed beans is best. Continue using the bean broth for extra moisture.
- When complete, slice the reserved chiles and serve the beans with with the chiles and onions.
Make Refried Beans Ahead of Time
One of the BEST things about this recipe is that the time consuming part can be done well in advance. In fact, they can be frozen for up to six months!
Before the sauté and mash steps, cool the beans and package in your desired portion sizes in freezer safe containers or bags.
When ready to serve, defrost and continue with the next steps.
So make a batch, or a double or triple batch, freeze them, and always have fresh, home cooked beans on hand for Taco Tuesday or weekend company.
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Marta's Healthy Tasty NOT Refried Beans
- 1 pound dried beans, about 2 cups, Pinto or Canary beans, See Gr8 Notes
- 2 quarters of a large brown onion, peeled
- 3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 stem epazote, See Gr8 Notes
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 whole serrano chiles, feel free to use more if desired. You can also use jalapeños, they may impart more heat.
SOAK THE BEANS OVERNIGHT:
- Put beans into a 3 ½ to 4 quart pan and cover with water by 2 inches. Soak these overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
OR QUICK SOAK METHOD:
- Put the beans in a saucepan and add 6 to 8 cups of hot water. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes, then simmer for one hour. Drain and rinse the beans in a colander.
COOK THE BEANS:
- Fill the same saucepan ⅔ with water and bring to a boil over high heat.
- When the water is boiling carefully add the drained beans. The water should be two-inches over the beans. If there is too much, use a heat proof liquid measuring cup to remove the excess.
- Add one quarter of the onion, the garlic, the epazote, and the salt. Do not stir.
- Partially cover the pan and bring back to a simmer. Once the mixture is simmering adjust the heat so it doesn't boil over.
- After about 15 minutes skim any foam that has collected on top of the broth.
- Simmer for a total of 30 to 45 minutes, until the beans are tender and creamy. Do not stir.
- Carefully remove the onion, garlic, and epazote.
- At this point, you can cool the beans and freeze (see Gr8 Do Ahead Notes). Or let them cool and continue with the next part when ready to serve. If you have extra water, do not drain. You will use this in the next part of the recipe.
FINISH THE BEANS:
- Slice the remaining quarter onion into thin strips, about ¼" wide.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large frying pan. (I like to use my 12" cast iron pan.)
- To the hot oil, add the sliced onion and the whole serrano chiles.
- Cook the onion and chile until the onion is nicely browned and the chiles are charred.
- Remove the chile and onion from the pan and set aside. Add about a third of the beans to the pan.
- Using a potato masher (or the back of a wooden spoon) mash the beans and cook. Add a little of the bean water to keep this mash moist. You should have a nice mixture of mashed beans and whole or partially whole beans.
- Continue adding the beans and the juice and mashing until all the beans are combined and mashed. You may not need to use all of the bean broth. If you do need more broth than you have, just use a little water.
- Slice the charred serrano chile and serve the chile and the onion with the beans, if desired.