My grade school didn’t offer hot lunches on a daily basis. Instead, about once a month, we’d get a little brown envelope sent home with us to take to our parents to make a payment for a special hot lunch day– usually in the form of hamburgers from McDonald’s or fried chicken from Brown’s Chicken. My favorite hot lunch day was taco day with tacos from Taco Bell. Well, it was my favorite until two things came to my attention: 1) I witnessed a Taco Bell worker regularly wipe his nose with his hand while assembling our tacos on site and 2) the idea of lard in the refried beans.
Being a foodie, I realize now that lard is not always the enemy, in fact, it was amazingly creamy and delicious while smeared on a piece of toast during a Herb Farm bacon dinner last year. I still can’t bring myself to cook with it though just out of the sheer ick factor that I still instinctively get from it.
So when I make Mexican food at home, refried beans have not been an ingredient and lately, I’ve been feeling like it’s key. It adds texture and spice that I can’t otherwise achieve with beans left whole. I’ve tried out recipes that substitute bacon fat for lard, but is it really necessary to have animal fat to achieve that creamy texture?
If using canned black beans, then the answer is no. Knowing that the liquid in a can of beans is just the beans starchy cooking liquid, I decided to let this do the work for me as far as keeping the beans moist when mashed. I cooked some chopped green onions, minced garlic and jalapeno in canola oil, then added two cans of black beans, one drained and one with its liquid. I then seasoned the beans with dried oregano, a lot of cumin, and a dash of ground cinnamon. Finally, to give the beans a bit of that smoky flavor that comes from bacon or lard, I added chopped chipotles in adobo sauce. I took a potato masher to the mix and once the beans were mashed to a refried bean consistency, I reduced the heat and let the starchy bean liquid cook down.
What can I say? These beans were just as creamy and smooth as refried beans, but more flavorful and spicy than your canned pinto variety. I spread this on quesadillas, tostadas topped with grilled chicken and avocado, and on griddled flour tortillas then smothered with tomatillo salsa and fried eggs for breakfast. These beans are delicious, versatile, and vegan!
- 4-5 green onions, white and green parts chopped finely
- 2 medium cloves of garlic, minced (about 1- 1.5 teaspoons)
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- Two 15 oz cans black beans, one can drained
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 medium chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped
- hot sauce to taste
- salt and pepper
- canola or vegetable oil
In a medium skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of canola oil over medium heat. Add the green onion, garlic, and jalapeno and saute until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the can of drained black beans and the second can of black beans with its liquid. Mix in the spices and chopped chipotles. Take a potato masher and mash the beans until no whole black beans are left. Reduce heat to medium low and let the liquid cook down, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and beans are of a creamy sauce consistency. Take a taste and adjust seasonings with salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste.
CSA Count: 1
Jalapeno (but on those huevos pictured, the count goes up to 3 with tomatillos and cilantro.)