Refried beans can be more than just a side dish. Try them as a bed for fried eggs (page 524) or thinned with a little Salsa Roja (page 662) for a hearty enchilada or tamale sauce. Puréed, they make an excellent base for a bean dip (page 462).
For more assertive seasoning, try adding a couple sprigs of epazote (fresh or dried), a bay leaf or 2, and some garlic to the pot as the beans simmer.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- Total Time: 20 Minutes
- ¼ cup good-quality vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more if desired
- 3 cups cooked pinto, red, or black beans, drained but still moist
- Salt and pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne, plus more if desired
- Put the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it’s hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add the cumin and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add the beans and mash with a large fork or potato masher. Continue to cook, mashing and stirring, until the beans are more or less broken up (some remaining chunks are fine).
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper and add the cayenne and more cumin if you like. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.
- CREAMIER REFRIED BEANS For a more velvety texture, use coconut oil instead of vegetable oil.
- 8 Flavorings for Refried Beans Minced fresh chile, like jalapeño or Thai; add with the cumin
- Ground ancho or chipotle chile powder; add instead of the cayenne
- Minced fresh ginger or garlic; add with the cumin
- Chopped Quickest Pickled Vegetables (page 89); stir in at the end
- Chopped seeded tomatoes; stir in after mashing the beans and let cook for a minute or 2
- Chopped fresh cilantro; stir in at the end
- Chopped black olives; stir in at the end
- Grated cheddar, Monterey Jack, or Chihuahua cheese, or crumbled queso
- fresco; sprinkle over the beans before serving