Homemade Refried Beans

These are labor intensive, but once you get them right, it’s impossible to go back to canned.

1 lb dried pinto or pink beans
1/2 lb bacon
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt to taste

Pick over beans for withered or broken beans and stones. Rinse beans VERY thoroughly with cold water in a colander (when you think you’ve rinsed them enough, rinse them a couple more times!). Place beans in a deep pot and cover with 6-8 cups cold water and allow to soak for 8 hours or over night.

Remove any floating beans and bring beans in soaking water to a boil, then reduce to medium simmer for at least 90 minutes. Add 1 tsp of salt to water and stir periodically. Add hot water as needed – you always want about 1 inch of water over the surface of the beans – along with 1 tsp of salt for every 2 c of added water. Occasionally skim foam from top of beans. When beans are tender, drain beans, reserving 2 cups of bean juice. DO NOT RINSE BEANS! Just set them aside.

In a deep skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy and remove from skillet, allowing drippings to remain in pan. After all bacon is cooked and set aside, cook onion and garlic in bacon drippings until tender and translucent (if there’s not enough drippings, add a little vegetable oil). While onion is cooking, coarsely chop or crumble bacon.

When onion and garlic are done, turn heat down to low and add half of the beans to onion mixture. Pour about 1/2 c of the bean juice into the skillet and, using a potato masher, begin coarsely mashing the beans. Once you reach the desired consistency, add the rest of the beans and keep mashing and adding bean juice until you get the texture you want.

Stir in the bacon, cumin and chili powder and taste the beans. You will probably need to add more salt, stir and taste a few times. Save the bean juice in the fridge for reheating. Using plain water to rehydrate the beans will kill the flavor.

*I know. This is unbelievably fatty and salty. I know. Dried beans prepared from scratch require quite a bit of salt for flavoring and the bacon drippings provide the great texture and keep them from being crumbly and chalky. We only have them a couple times a year.