Friday, February 3, 2017

Refried Beans – Cooked Well, Not Twice

Contrary to popular belief, refried beans are not called refried beans because they’re refried.  As it turns out the name actually translates to well fried, as in so well fried, beans are reduced to a molten mash.  And what a delicious mash it is.

I don’t think I would ever sit down to eat just a bowl of refried beans, but they make everything they’re served with, on, or in, infinitely better.  Just as long as you use lard.  In my opinion, using rendered pork fat for these produces the ultimate refried beans.

Many folks insist on using bacon, and it’s always hard to argue against using bacon, but for me that smoky flavor, as delicious as it is, just overwhelms the rest of the ingredients.  Besides that enthusiastic recommendation, be sure to taste for seasoning at the end.

Since we don’t cook the beans with salt, it’s going to take some fairly generous seasoning later. In fact, any reviews less than five-stars will be the result of people under salting, and then unfairly blaming me. So, whether these are going on your Super Bowl nachos, or just in your regular recipe rotation, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 8 portions refried beans:
For the beans:
1 pound dry pinto beans, soaked overnight
4 whole garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon dry epazote, or teaspoon of dried oregano
9 cups cold water
- Simmer one and a half to two hours or until beans are very soft
For the refried beans:
1/2 cup lard
1 1/2 cups diced onions
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced Serrano pepper
1 teaspoon ground chipotle
the cooked beans
reserved bean liquid, as needed (I usually use all of it)

34 comments:

Bryce Collins said...

This looks great!

Hey chef, I have a bunch of Star Anise in my cupboards and i'm not sure what I should use it with. Do you know any recipes that use it?

cam said...

Hey Chef John, what kind of lard are you using? The stuff I buy at the supermarket has no flavor.

Bryce Collins said...

Hey chef, this looks delicious!

I was wondering - I have a bunch of Star Anise left in my cupboard and I was wondering if you knew of any recipes with which I could use it?

Alicia said...

Beans has been a staple in my life. I'm sure I was weaned from the bottle with refried beans...yet they are really not my favorite thing in the world and they don't like me much either.

But my mom boils a big pot of beans at least a couple of times a week and she has to have them with every meal.

Up until around 10 years ago she would use the pinto beans, but then she found the peruano beans and she never looked back. She loves the fact that they plump up more than the pintos, they are meatier and prettier since they are much light in color.

Have you ever tried them?

boobee said...

duck fat?

Tamim Omary said...

instead of lard can I use butter?

beemo said...

If you absolutely have to make this in a hurry, you can soften the beans in a pressure cooker instead of soaking them overnight.

Google several times on this topic to average out correct proportions, amounts of water, cooking times etc. for different beans and different purposes; basically you can be ready for Chef John's great recipe here in half an hour, tops. Remember your purpose is not to cook the beans, but rather to prepare them.

Unknown said...

I'm a little surprised at the lack of cumin! Is there something about the epazote that makes it unnecessary? Or is cumin not traditionally used in refried beans? Either way the end result looks amazing!

Rob Guthm said...


Whoa! wtf Chef? I came here specifically looking a chicken bone prediction and all I find is a (very yummy) refried bean recipe? I'm in the hole 9 figures this season but I told my book - "Not To Worry, I have the LOCK play!". Please don't underestimate the lives that lay in the balance. This is serious stuff. So, you going to shake the bones today? I'm very scared that some terrible accident could befall you in the meantime so post haste please!

I'll be over here guarding the Sloppy Dip and frantically mashing the F5 key. Sorry to hijack the refried beans comments, but this is serious stuff.

James Hawk III said...

The problem I have with lard is that I've not been able to locate any grocery store in town that sells it. The recent insane fascination with coconut oil has led the stores to cover every available square inch of shelving with coconut oil products, replacing any lard which might have been there. My solitary opportunity to find it might lie in a Latino grocery, hopefully run by a nice man named Octavio Basilio Juan Alamilla y Vega, so I can say "Help me, O. B. Juan--you're my only hope!"

Amethyst Samia said...

Yum. Just yum. I've never really known how these were made though I sorta guessed but these look amazing. Will try these for my kid. He loves them. As do I...

trevorsg said...

I'm getting antsy for a Super Bowl prediction involving chicken wing bones! Also, this would be the 50th anniversary of a winning streak of predictions (assuming you explain how the bones were misinterpreted last year). According to last year's video, the tradition started in 1967 and has never been wrong!

Steve Kennedy said...

Bones, Bones, Bones, Bones, Bones, Bones!

PeanutBitter said...

If you were forced to choose the best vegan substitute for lard, what would you choose? I've gotta try this recipe, but the lard just doesn't work for me!

Fred Hinch said...

Great recipe for authentic refritos. However, there is a secret trick one can employ. Add a packet of ******'s Onion Soup Mix to the beans about 1/2 way through cooking. When the beans are tender, one could enjoy a bowl of beans topped off with a ladle of green chile stew or chile con carne. The taste of New Mexico.

inchrisin said...

Thank you for the recipe, John!

Would you change the recipe at all if you used black beans instead of pinto?

rodentraiser said...

Excellent timing, Chef John!

I usually make these in a crock pot and I added lard for the first time just a couple weeks ago. It definitely made a difference! The beans were creamier and tasted better.

However, I added the lard, the water, the beans, the onions, and the seasonings all at once. I think this next time I'll fry up the onions in the lard the way you do it in your video and then add to the beans after they're done cooking in the crock pot. I'm a very lazy cook, so it might take me a while to switch to soaking the beans and doing your recipe as shown in the video like a normal person.

I've found 6 cups of water to be just enough for me. Once the beans are cooked in the crock pot, the water turns into a dark broth and I just add it back to the beans by mixing with a hand mixer.

I think I can find epazote and the rest at the Hispanic store down the road.

Thank you for the recipe! I'm really looking forward to making these again and adding some new flavor to them!

Oliver Nath said...

If I just saw this video right now and didn't have time to soak the beans, would it be acceptable to use canned beans to speed things up?

Oliver Nath said...

If I just saw this video and didn't have the time to soak my beans, would a big can of beans work as a substitute?

enestvmel said...

This recipe is great for the super bowl, but where's your super bowl prediction? I love those posts!

Alex Weber said...

There are 2 things guaranteed to make me smile in blissful, "all is right with the universe" relaxation. The first is hammocks. Getting parabolic gets my head right. The second is Chef John's voice saying, "Hello, this is Chef John from Food Wishes dot com with, {insert new/old thing that will make me and my family happy for weeks, months, and years to come}." Love you so much, Chef John, you're my kind of superhero.

Jomichele said...

Chef John,
30 years ago I learned the secret to great refried beans: you have to fry them until the skins are toasty brown before you mash them.
Once the beans are tender, drain them well and reserve the liquid. Heat the lard in a heavy pan over med-high heat until it shimmers. pour the well-drained beans into the oil and then don't stir them around. after a minute or so, use a spatula to carefully lift some beans from the bottom of the pan to see if the bean skins are splitting and caramelizing. If they are getting toasty, gently lift and turn the beans. The first toasting takes the most time. Every time you turn them, they toast faster and you many want to cut the heat down closer to medium. Keep toasting the beans until they all have toasty brown skins. And now you mash them, adding in as much liquid as needed to get the consistency you like. Use tap water if you run out of bean broth. This technique, where you are actually frying the beans, makes for the tastiest refried beans ever!

I don't think this method would work well with onions and herbs in the pan, so you'd probaby want to cook those separately, then add them before mashing.

Kyle Young said...

No more "bones" Superbowl predictions?

Scott Barber said...

I'm dismayed... there was no SuperBowl prediction!!

christian sister said...

Chef john, I love your recipes. But could you do us a huge favor?
Can you write out the steps? The video is great but when you are cooking you
Have to scroll through the entire video when reading it would be faster and easier.

Robby said...

Hey Chef John,

Long time viewer, first time commenter, etc. Is there a particular reason for not salting the beans until the end? Thanks so much for all your great videos!

Robby

S/V Blondie-Dog said...

Greetings Chef! I'll has ya' done knows dat' I done made me a bowl of refried beans just like ya' done showed us and it was good! And funny enough it taste just like bean dip too! No more of that canned stuff for me! Thanks! Your da' best!

Douglas OBannon said...

Chef John, you said, "I don’t think I would ever sit down to eat just a bowl of refried beans." Well, you just might if you had it with New Mexico red chile, topped with cheese, and your homemade tortillas. Incredibly good!

Ismael Sanabria said...

Chef John, try them with chorizo!!! Refried beans in chorizo are soooooo good.. With the fat that the chorizo lets out and the chorizo the beans taste really good..

Unknown said...

Hi Chef John,

Thank you for an inspiring recipe, as usual!

Having solved one mystery, you leave me with another: why would you cook the beans uncovered? Isn't that just a huge waste of heat?

goldpanman said...

I made this recipe and took it to a superbowl party along with some tortilla chips and cheddar cheese. Delicious! Everyone loved it. I'll be making this again. Thanks for the recipe chef John.

beemo said...

What a pleasure it was to make this recipe, my first attempt at refritos, especially with a few drinks and nice sounds to listen to. I did the full overnight bean soak.

I won't evaluate the results (except to say I found it delicious) because I was obliged to use nontraditional beans and a few other alternate indgredients. But now that I know the procedure things can only get even better.

Geezer said...

You can use black beans ... or any bean you like. Black beans do not need to be soaked overnight. You can start cooking them right from the package. No matter what bean you use, they're done when they're tender, whether it takes 1 hour or 3. Can you use cumin? Absolutely! Add it to the onions. Corriander? Better to add cilantro stems to the simmering beans. Substitute for lard? Vegetable or canola oil ... Though it truly wont taste as good. Butter? Olive oil? Coconut oil? No, no and no. Why no salt when cooking? It makes the beans tough, add AFTER they're cooked.
Jalapenos and serranos heat comes mostly from the white pith that holds the seeds ... Which is really handy to know. Mild, medium or hot? Leave 1,2 or all 3 in place.
Finally this, the idea that dried beans last indefinetly is a myth. 2 years from harvest and that's it. Older beans will NEVER get soft, no matter how long you soak or cook them. So how do you tell if they're old? You cant. So, if they have been on your shelf for a year ... Chuck 'em and buy new ones ... I mean, c'mon, they're dirt cheap!
Been cookin' beans for more than a half century :-)

Princesssookeh said...

@peanutbitter I just use vegetable or peanut oil. tastes great and my beans are entirely veggi.