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Jul 12, 2010 01:39 PM

Recipe? SF burrito beans

Hey all,

I visited SF back in April, and am still dreaming of your burritos (I went to La Taqueria and Taqueria Cancun). The reason? Those amazing beans.

Up here in Toronto, our burritos often feature paste-like refried bean goop. But -- and I'm assuming this is commonplace in California -- the SF Mission district burritos we ate had the incredible whole (pinto?) beans that seemed to be simmered in a rich, flavorful broth.

I'm hunting for recipes, but know little of Mexican cuisine. Any help?


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  1. Check the chow recipe section. In this recipe just substitute pintos and don't mash.

    10 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      I don't think that's quite it. I'm quite sure there was more to the flavour than just onion and garlic. Other ideas?

      1. re: hardboiled

        That's the recipe I used as a base for my refried, but add cumin and chili powder to the sautee, and I sub beef stock for water. And I double the onions and garlic, cooking the onions golden before I add the garlic and spices.

        1. re: hardboiled

          La Taqueria does not have refried beans. The beans at La Taqueria are plain pinto beans simply done w/o cumin or any other flavorings. Did you try them solo and taste distinct flavors?
          I also think that the quality of the dried beans makes a difference. Rancho Gordo has high quality beans.

          The traditional way to make La Taqueria style beans is to simply simmer the beans with whole garlic and half an onion. Here's a recipe from Rancho Gordo's site. Skip the instructions to add celery and carrots though.

          1. re: Mari

            Second the Rancho Gordo beans. They are significantly fresher which makes a difference. The beans in grocery stores can be four or five years old, having lived in warehouses before ever seeing the store.

            Rancho Gordo ships and having high-quality beans will make a difference!

            1. re: CarrieWas218

              +3 on Rancho Gordo. I particularly like the beans they advertise as having good "pot liquor". I'm always surprised at how flavorful they are with very little or nothing added.

              1. re: THewat

                Rancho Gordo sells some outstanding dried beans. Are you thinking of the Rio Zapes (per their site, "The pot liquor is deep and dark and makes a fine sauce on its own")? Just had a pot of those this week. Yum.

                But there's no doubt that RG's fame allows them to charge a big premium for their products. It took me a long time to come around to paying $5 a pound for dried beans.

                Not to say it isn't worth it, and they've got more varieties than anybody else. So if nothing but Good Mother Stallard beans will do, RG's your source. But if you happen to have a local bean farmer growing heirloom varieties, you may be able to get something just as good and just as fresh for less money.

                The more we support our local growers, the more they'll grow stuff we want. What's not to like?

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  I had Rio Zape last week too! Borlotti, Good Mother Stallard, Rio Zape, Ayocote Morado... All good. Lucky for you if you have local growers!

                  I'm in rural CT & I get eight to ten pounds at a time from Rancho Gordo. I appreciate their flat rate shipping, and 8 pounds of beans feeds me well for a long time. I also really appreciate their Xoxoc Project.

                  1. re: THewat

                    Eight pounds won't last two months in my house, but it's still hard to break the bank buying beans. I'm glad the folks at RG are doing what they are, and hope that they inspire people all over the place - Connecticut's a good place to grow cranberry / cargamanto / borlotti beans.

                    1. re: alanbarnes

                      Intrest piqued. Here's a video on growing borlotti beans: - maybe I could do it myself. Other beans you think would do well here? Why?

                      1. re: THewat

                        Great site for borlotti and more. Thanks. I use dried borlotti in place of pinto. They are one of my favorites.

      2. ok, my mom does make the best beans, beans are cooked in a crock pot, after they are soft to the touch she adds a tablespoon of LARD, adds the salt and simmers for another 1/2 hour or so.

        they reallty are good

        1. In my house, the natives complain bitterly if there isn't a pot of frijoles de la olla available at all times. So needless to say, I cook a LOT of beans. At least two batches per week.

          For that rich, flavorful broth you want, simmer a pound of beans with a smoked ham hock and a teaspoon of salt. Onions and garlic are optional. Some folks like to add cumin and/or oregano, but I'd advise against it. Go for it if that's the flavor profile you want, but for the love of all things tasty use a light hand.

          6 Replies
          1. re: alanbarnes

            My last few batches of beans I've been sauteing thin, short strips of pork belly with a little onion and garlic til everything's pretty browned, then adding the beans (I've been using peruanos lately). Always before I just used a hock or fatback. I think this gives a porkier flavor.

            1. re: alanbarnes

              your beans sound delicious never mind how your house smells a couple times a week :)
              cumin/oregano not for me either although I'm crazy for their flavor profile just not in refried beans.
              the hock is maybe what that restaurant uses in their really exceptional beans I love so much.

              1. re: iL Divo

                If you eat beans every day, your system adjusts. The fruit loses its music.

                Lately I've been using smoked turkey tails instead of ham hocks, and have been very pleased with the results.

                1. re: alanbarnes

                  Smoked turkey tails???? Is that a turkey pope's nose equivalent? Andd where do you get them? Please.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    The papal schnozz itself. I saw a big package of them at the grocery (Save-Mart?) and decided to give 'em a whirl. They've got a smokier flavor than a lot of the pork products I've used.

                  2. re: alanbarnes

                    Also, the "effect" of beans is far more prevalent from those really old, grocery store beans. I cook Rancho Gordo beans two and three times a month and as his beans are significantly fresher, I have never noticed any "effect!"

              2. There is a restaurant in Simi Valley California that used to have 5 or 6 locations, no longer however, I only know of 1 still open. Anyway, every day for years except weekends I'd go get my bean burrito and chips and adored their refried beans. I was never able to get their recipe although I asked a bazillion times. To me, they had the flavor of smoke somehow and I tried making mine with bacon and pork products, nope. They also had a creaminess, so I tried cream cheese, sour cream or both in there, nope. Dang.....

                So my refrieds that I like best will be scoffed at when I say how I do it. Let me get my thoughts down and write it up then I'll post

                1 Reply
                1. re: iL Divo

                  I don't to black beans though not a fan of them. Pintos are my choice simlpy for flavor and they are
                  easy to prepare.

                2. After trying many others, I use this recipe, although I simmer for a loooong time at low heat--often all day, or start one day, turn off over night, then finish off the next day:

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: sholli

                    I note that the nytimes recipe suggests a sprig of epazote can be added. I especially like the taste of epazote.

                    I also like the taste of MEXICAN oregano - not the same species as other oregano.

                    I have only used both Mexican oregano and epazote in dried form (but not necessarily together) but they are both well-pronounced, NOT like dried basil which seems tasteless to me.