I am always repulsed by the refried beans from the can. I mean, I love the flavor, but there's something about prying the strangely-gelatinous pink mass from its metal home that sets me ill-at-ease. Perhaps it looks too much like pet food? Or perhaps it just smells too much like pet food? The sad thing is that I LOVE the taste of refried beans. And I LOVE bean dip, especially out at a restaurant. But are my options really that I have to go to a restaurant to get good refried beans or tolerate the glop from a can? There must be a better way.
So one Saturday morning, I happen to catch America's Test Kitchen on PBS. THey were making huevos rancheros, I believe, and were having the same bean trouble I was. So they figured out how to make refried beans at home without having to first cook the beans and all that. It was quick, easy, and according to them, it was much tastier than the tin-can counterpart. I thought it was worth a try.
Of course, I used their recipe as a guideline, but didn't have all of the ingredients they called for. So with some improvisation, this is what I came up with. I've made it several times since then, and I come dangerously close to gluttony when I have a warm bowl of these beans and some good tortilla chips.
Give it a try--you might be surprised!!
1 lg. can pinto beans, drained, liquid reserved
1 small onion, diced finely
4 strips of bacon (OR 1-2 Tbsp. bacon fat, if you've got some)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 4 oz. can green chilies, chopped as finely as desired
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt (or to taste)
In a saute pan over medium heat, render the fat from the bacon. Then eat the bacon, leaving the fat in the pan. Cooking does have its perks! To the drippings, add the onion, and saute until it begins to soften. Then add the chilies and garlic, and also the cumin and salt. Saute until fragrant, about a minute or two.
Meanwhile, toss the pinto beans into a food processor or blender, then add the onion/chile mixture on top. Pulse until the beans are as smooth as you like them, adding the reserved liquid until they're your preferred consistency.
Heat olive oil in that same saute pan, and transfer beans to warm pan. Cook over medium high heat until warmed through, just to combine flavors.
Sit down in a comfy chair with these beans and a fresh bag of tortilla chips and sigh contentedly. Then consume the whole bowl. Makes about 2 cups.
ALTERNATELY, you can use these in a Mexican layer dip, or spooned over deluxe nachos, or tucked inside tacos and burritos...I'm just saying, the possibilities are practically endless.