I was in the mood for Mexican and had everything in my kitchen to make up a well rounded meal. The first thing that I had to get cooking was the pinto beans. Sort, rinse and cover with water. Turn on the stove and check the water level every once in a while. The beans would pretty much cook themselves in about an hour and a half which was fine since I still had to put together the rest of my meal. This whole cooking of the beans could be eliminated if you chose to use canned pinto beans, which I have and it works very well. Two 14 oz. cans rinsed and drained will be exactly what you need to have almost instant refried beans.
I use lard or bacon fat depending on what I have on hand but you could sub olive oil or canola if you are attempting a healthier version. I on the other hand don’t eat refried beans too often so I go for the gusto and make them crazy simple with ingredients that have bad press. I also add onions that I cook down until they are very soft and a little brown. This simple step adds a nice layer of sweet smokiness to the beans without the addition of bacon fat.
You can use a potato masher to mash your beans or a food processor to get a smoother texture.
1 pound dried pinto beans (about 2 ½ cups)
2 – 4 Tbsp. lard or bacon fat
½ cup onions, chopped small
¼ - ½ cup boiling water
1 – 2 tsp. kosher salt
Grated cheddar cheese
Sort and rinse beans to remove rocks and dirt.
Place the beans in a sauce pot and cover beans with cold tap water 3 inches above the beans. Add a bay leaf and bring to a boil; lower heat to a slow boil and let cook for 1 ½ - 2 hours or until the beans are soft.
Helpful hint: Keep a kettle or pot of water simmering to add water as needed to keep the water level above the beans. If you add cold water to the cooking beans it will take longer for them to cook.
Drain the beans and set aside. In the same pot add lard and onions and cook over med heat until the onions are very soft, about 8 - 10 minutes or until the onions are soft enough that they will mash along with the beans without any crunchy texture. The onions may get a little brown but that only adds a nice smoky sweet flavor to the beans.
Add back the beans and mash with a potato masher or pulse in a food processor. Add water as you mash until you have the consistency that you want. Season with salt.
Top with cheese and place under the broiler until it has melted.