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How Do You Make Mexican Restaurant Refried Beans?

dtud Oct 13, 2006 11:03 PM

i have no problem making Mexican food at home - but i have never been able to get refried beans to taste "right" - like a restaurant. i'm from Los Angeles - so my favorite refried beans are made from pinto beans. they are a very smooth/fluid consistency with no whole beans. i can't really describe the taste. does anyone know what i'm talking about and how to make these at home?

oh - and canned beans are NOT what i'm looking for.

  1. babette feasts Oct 14, 2006 12:03 AM


    6 Replies
    1. re: babette feasts
      GG Mora Oct 14, 2006 12:17 AM


      1. re: GG Mora
        dtud Oct 14, 2006 01:15 AM

        ok - but what do you do with the lard? what's the ratio of lard:bean? is there a good brand of lard?

        1. re: dtud
          Robert Lauriston Oct 14, 2006 01:19 AM

          You make good lard yourself from pork fat.

          1. re: dtud
            GG Mora Oct 14, 2006 01:31 AM

            Yes, you can render your own lard (which I will be doing next week...a local farm is offing its first pig om Tuesday and I have dibs on the fat!). Barring that, you can get sometimes get good lard from a butcher or from a grocery in a neighborhood with a Mexican or Latino population. Barring that, you can buy the sanitized lard (Sno-Cap or some such) from a chain grocery, and then throw it in a roasting pan with some very fatty country-style ribs and cook low and slow until the fat is rendered.

            Using a couple of tablespoons of lard, sauté some chopped white onion and garlic until soft, then cook about 4 cups of cooked beans, adding a little at a time along with some of the cooking liquid; mash the baens as you go along.

            The best refried beans are like a soft pudding.

            1. re: GG Mora
              janeer Jun 20, 2007 05:04 PM

              I make mine much the same way: lard, black beans and liquid, plus some epazote for flavor. Sometimes I use pinto beans, but I love the black. I like to make them right before serving.
              www. littlecomptonmornings. blogspot.com

        2. re: babette feasts
          AbdulSheikhMohammed Jun 20, 2007 04:58 PM

          I use bacon grease. Always looking for excuses to cook up some bacon to snack on...

          (Bacon grease + onions + garlic + cooked pintos + water) + (cook down the water a bit) + (potato masher) = (my refried beans)

        3. UnConundrum Oct 14, 2006 12:05 AM

          I cook the beans (bring water to boil, add beans and 1 tsp salt/lb of beans, and bake at 250 till done, about 2.5 hours) As the beans approach being done, I saute onions and a little garlic. Strain the beans reserving the liquid. Add the beans to the onions and mash somewhat. Thin out with reserved bean liquid. Add cumin and chili to taste. Adjust salt. Add some fresh, chopped coriander.

          1. Robert Lauriston Oct 14, 2006 12:09 AM

            For the smooth consistency, you need to mash them. There's a metal tool called a bean masher.

            For the flavor, you need good-quality fresh-rendered lard.

            1. s
              Sharuf Oct 14, 2006 12:23 PM

              Get your butcher to give you some pork fat trimmings. If there's a little meat attached, so much the better. Add that to the pot when you start cooking the beans. Discard before mashing the beans.

              1. Candice Oct 16, 2006 08:37 PM

                I love refritos and make them all the time. If I have bacon at home, I'll cook and remove it from the pan, then saute onions, garlic, and chilies in the fat, add one or 2 cans of pinto beans, some chicken stock and simmer a bit. After that, I puree them in the blender and they come out super creamy. I usually add coriander and cumin to the sauteing veggies too. If I don't have bacon on hand, I'll use olive oil and the results are still very tasty.

                1. Dommy Oct 20, 2006 07:11 PM

                  Being Southern Mexican I perfer Frijoles Colados made with black beans to Refried Beans.

                  What I do is boil my beans with lots of onion, lard and epazote. Then, once they are done, purree them (Beans and Onions) in a blender with just a bit of juice to loosen it up. Then, I add to a skillet with heated olive oil and garlic and just wait for them to REALLY thicknen... it's Heaven...

                  My mother grew up Chicana, so she used pintos for refritos for ages. What she would do is boil her beans with just water and a bit of lard. Then, she would get little pieces of fatty pork belly and make 'chicharones' rendering all the fat and leaving little crispy bits of belly. Then she would add the cooked beans right into the mixture and mash with something that resembled a potato masher.

                  But over the last few years she's been dealing with Cholestorol problems, so she's stopped witht he Chicarones and switched from Pinto to Peruvian Beans. She uses olive oil as her 'refrito' medium and also adds garlic to the oil (From me!) and then adds the Preuvian Beans and mashes. The Peruvian Beans have this WONDERFUL creamy texture she likes and makes her not miss her Chicharones... :)


                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Dommy
                    Pampatz Jun 20, 2007 03:26 PM

                    Here in Michoacan, all my Mexican neighbors and me, too, use Peruano beans. So much more flavor and a creamy texture.
                    We get fresh lard from the butcher here. I have to take my own plastic container. I think I'm the only one to buy 1/4 kilo at a time.

                    1. re: Dommy
                      Sam Fujisaka Jun 20, 2007 04:26 PM

                      Interesting. I've never heard of "Peruvian beans". I worked with small bean farmers near the center of origin for beans (Cajamarca). Among them, they had 220 separate varieties at the time. What is the "Peruvian bean" like in terms of size, color (s), and shape?

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                        Pampatz Jun 20, 2007 05:12 PM

                        Peruanos go by several names. Canario=Maicabo=mayocoba=azufrado.
                        Smaller than a pinto, larger than a navy bean. The color dry is yellowish, sometimes pinkish. Cooks up very tender and pink. See www.foodsubs.com for a picture.

                        1. re: Pampatz
                          Sam Fujisaka Jun 20, 2007 07:49 PM

                          Thanks, Pampatz. I know that bean; and now I know what hit us. We did our research in Cajamarca, Peru, on farmers' maintenance and reliance on a large number (220) of traditional varieties (landraces) and on how to conserve them locally (en situ) more than 10 years ago. It was the Canario and its market/financial attractiveness to small farmers that led to the demise of most of the traditionals. It was a sad chapter in my life as a agricultural researcher.

                    2. n
                      niki rothman Oct 20, 2006 07:49 PM

                      Manteca = lard.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: niki rothman
                        dhedges53 Jun 20, 2007 04:15 PM

                        Never leave home without it (manteca)!!!

                      2. w
                        wayne keyser Oct 20, 2006 09:03 PM

                        "Taste like the restaurant" depends on which restaurant.

                        Try one or two of the suggestions above, then next time you go to your favorite restaurant stop ... think ... and taste the beans. What are they really like? How do they compare with your most recent efforts?

                        My own favorite: Boil pintos until soft (I never find a need to soak them before boiling) - reserve a little of the water. Drain, put into food processor with some of the water, cumin, garlic powder, salt, maybe some onion cooked separately, and to match my favorite restaurant just a bit of tomato (paste, sauce, fresh, whatever's around). Process until quite smooth, taste, adjust and serve. I never can tell enough difference, cooking them a second time with lard, to be worth the extra calories and fat.

                        We should note that Hispanic 'hounds are used to several varieties of beans - at my local supermarket I can find Mexican brands of canned refried black beans, red beans, and several styles of refried pintos including "with cotija cheese" and "with chorizo".

                        1. l
                          lougonzales Jun 20, 2007 11:07 AM

                          Just add a little lard to coat the pan / pot. As far as spices, salt to taste as well as onion and garlic. My mother use to say add what ever you like. She would serve the beans first as frijoles de la hoya, with cilantro and green onions/fresh pico de gallo sometimes she would add to the pot a large anahiem chile(Green) for taste.Refried would follow, thats when you would add the lard and perhaps a liittle monterey jack cheese. My favotite are the frijole chinos. Frijoles chinos are frijoles fritos refried one more time without the cheese. Add to the lard coat the pan and refry the refied beans again. They should come out litely toasty and spread like a crunchy peanut butter. Hope this helps Like my Mom would say, Y te Wacho! ( See Yah! )

                          1. Eat_Nopal Jun 20, 2007 11:12 AM

                            Given the style of beans you want....

                            > Pinto Beans cooked with a whole onion to be discarded
                            > Mash in a skillet with rendered lard & a few tortilla strips (many places in L.A. do this)
                            > By no means should you add cumin, powdered chile... garlic is 50/50 particularly if it is roasted first

                            That is how you get the refried's common in most L.A. restaurants

                            1. j
                              JeetJet Jun 20, 2007 03:36 PM

                              Add a little Chorizo grease to your refried beans and potato tacos -- just the grease and only a small amount. Also, some Jack cheese helps in the beans. Add a little bacon grease to your chowder, scampi and fried rice. Pork fat really does rule.

                              1. d
                                dhedges53 Jun 20, 2007 04:08 PM

                                Makes 3 cups

                                1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
                                2 (15.5 ounces each) cans pinto beans , drained and rinsed
                                1 tablespoon vegetable oil
                                3 ounces salt pork , rind removed and diced very small
                                1 small onion , chopped fine (about 3/4 cup)
                                1 jalapeno chile , seeds and ribs removed, chile minced
                                1 poblano chile , seeds and ribs removed, chile chopped fine (about 1/4 cup)
                                1/4 teaspoon table salt
                                3 small cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 1/2 teaspoons)
                                1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                                1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
                                2 teaspoons fresh lime juice (optional)

                                1. Process broth and all but 1 cup of beans in food processor until smooth, about 15 seconds, scraping sides of bowl with rubber spatula if necessary. Add remaining beans and process until slightly chunky, about ten 1-second pulses.

                                2. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add salt pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until fat has rendered and pork is well browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer pork to small bowl with slotted spoon and set aside (you should have about 2 tablespoons of fat left in skillet.)

                                3. Increase heat to medium-high; add onion, chiles, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beans and stir until thoroughly combined. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are thick and creamy, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro and lime juice, if using, and serve.

                                You said no canned pinto beans. Then, do what I do, and make your own pinto beans.

                                1. t
                                  TerriL Jun 21, 2007 08:47 PM

                                  My favorite recipe was in Saveur magazine a few years ago. I'll try to post it when I get a chance.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: TerriL
                                    cardozzo Jul 19, 2008 01:15 PM

                                    reviving the thread... I attempted a variant of a recipe described above. The beans came out well, with few minor issues to sort out, but one big one - my refried beans came out gray. Any suggestions?

                                    I actually cooked them twice, once in a cast iron pan and once in a non-stick, with the same result each time.

                                    1. re: cardozzo
                                      Antilope Jul 20, 2008 03:53 AM

                                      I've found out how to make the Mexican Restaurant Rice.


                                    2. re: TerriL
                                      cigarzfan Jan 9, 2010 09:25 AM

                                      TerriL, I have been searching for this recipe for months. Do you still have it? I would be eternally grateful if you could scan and email it to me!!! My addy is cigarzfan@yahoo.com Thanks for any reply!

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