Saturday, October 6, 2012

Refried Black Beans

I've been having computer problems.  I've had tons of issues with photo storage and retrieval, including some scary moments when I worried that I lost my photos and videos of Max.  Yikes!  Speaking of Max, he's 10 weeks old now.  He's awake all day, seldom takes naps, and he's starting to smile at us.  He's also just over 8 pounds... finally putting on some weight.  He's keeping me very, very busy, hence the lack of regular posts.

Despite the fact that I haven't been posting for a few weeks, I've been cooking tons of stuff.  Unfortunately many of my recipes were summer seasonal and I figured it would be cruel to share recipes with fresh basil and tomatoes in October, so I decided to share a recipe that my not look very pretty, but tastes great and is an excellent side with your Tex-Mex dishes:  Refried Black Beans.

I was watching The Pioneer Woman on Food Network and she did a show where she made a Mexican menu.  I made every recipe from that episode, but I ended up altering her refried black beans recipe to make it quick and easy.  Here's what I did...

I dumped two cans of black beans into a saucepan.  I didn't drain them, I didn't rinse them... I just dumped 'em in.  I also threw in some diced onion, cumin, minced garlic and pepper.

I cooked the mixture over medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, I heated a little bacon fat in a skillet.  Yes, I keep bacon fat in the refrigerator.  I don't use it everyday, but it's worth the extra fat and calories for some recipes.  It really adds a nice smoky flavor to these beans.  If you don't keep bacon fat in your fridge, you can always cook a few slices of bacon and use the rendered fat.  I'm sure you can find a use for fresh, hot bacon.  :)

And yes, you could use Crisco, vegetable oil or some other fat instead... it just won't be the same, but if you want to keep this dish vegetarian, that's a great option.

After the bacon fat melts, dump the bean mixture into the skillet.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently for a few minutes.

Then, mash the beans to your desired consistency.  I used a potato masher...

Serve the beans hot with grilled chicken and rice or on a burrito or as a taco filling.  The possibilities are endless.  I reheated the leftovers and used them as a dip for tortilla chips.

I prefer these beans over the typical refried (pinto) beans served in Mexican restaurants.  These have more flavor and they are cheap and easy to make.  I also like that you can leave some beans whole... not everyone likes their beans completely mashed.

I know refried beans aren't photogenic, but they are (generally) healthy and also really tasty!  This is a great recipe to keep in your repertoire for when you have enchiladas or carnitas for dinner.  Also, think about topping these beans with cheddar and a little fresh salsa and serving them as a hot dip with tortilla chips.

Refried Black Beans
based on The Pioneer Woman's Recipe

2 cans of black beans
1/2 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
2 teaspoons bacon fat (you can also use vegetable shortening or oil)

Combine beans (entire contents of can, do not drain) onion, garlic and cumin in a saucepan.  Add pepper to taste.  (I do not add salt as canned beans are notoriously salted.)

Heat bean mixture over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a separate saucepan (wide, flat pan or skillet) heat bacon fat.  Pour hot beans onto pan and cook for 3 minutes over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent burning.

Reduce heat and mash beans to desired consistency using a potato masher.  Check seasonings and adjust, if necessary.  Serve hot.


  1. I absolutely love The Pioneer Woman's show. I didn't think I would at first but now I find myself recording her epsiodes when I see them coming on.
    Your newborn is so precious. To get a few more hours of sleep, I say SWADDLE SWADDLE SWADDLE. Check with your pediatrician but swaddling was my best friend at night. I got an add'l hour with it all the time. :-)

    1. I absolutely love swaddling! Max now sleeps up to 5 or 6 hours at a time and I owe it all to swaddling (and tanking him up on breast milk right before bed). I'm so happy to get a long stretch of sleep from about 9pm to 3am and then another from 4am to 7am. It's the little things.

  2. I have yet to catch the Pioneer Woman's show, but this looks pretty delicious! And Max is getting more adorable with each passing day. His announcement (which has permanent residence on my fridge door) greets me every morning. Got to love that smile :)

    1. Aww, thanks! And you must check out PW's show! I think her style comes off better in her writing on her blog than on her show, but I really do like her recipes, so I forgive her delivery for being awkward in front of the camera... it really is all about the food. She has some of my favorite food photography. She breaks all the rules and I love it.

  3. mmm looks good. I never saw that show before. Hi Max!

  4. Max is such a cutie, and those beans look so yummy! I haven't seen the PW's show, but I've learned quite a bit about photography (food and otherwise) from her site. I also love that she does her thing in a real-world way without worrying about "the rules."

  5. That looks yummy! I can't wait until my little man smiles more!


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