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Old 07-05-2018, 04:00 PM   #1
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Refried beans

Mark has bean craving Mexican and Mexican inspired dishes for a while now, so I’ve opened a few cans of refried beans. I’ve never really been a fan of refried beans to begin with, and after having sampled a few different brands these last few weeks, I’m even less of a fan. They’re pasty, and bland beyond bland. I find the refried beans that fast food joints use (Del Taco, Taco Bell) to be equally revolting. And yet, they seem to be unavoidable when making Mexican cuisine. (Before y’all jump down my throat, I’m aware that there are plenty of Mexican dishes that don’t require beans, and even those that do can be adjusted to avoid them. But if they’re in a recipe in the first place, there’s gotta be a reason, right?)

So I have a pot of soaked black beans on the stove right now, well salted, with three smashed garlic cloves and half a roughly chopped yellow onion simmering away in a partially covered Dutch oven. I’m hoping that these beans will eventually become flavorful refried beans that have at least more pizzazz than soaked cardboard, without being spicy, as Mark doesn’t tolerate spicy too well. After having read several recipes from the main cooking websites, I gather that flavor is added when the beans are “refried,” the main spice seeming to be cumin.

Do any of you have a go-to for flavorful, not too spicy refried beans? And while you’re at it, why are they “refried?” The word implies that they’re fried twice, but that’s not the case! (Rhetorical question, friends. I have always found the term “refried” to be odd, though.)

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Old 07-05-2018, 04:18 PM   #2
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I think of refried beans as a neutral base, like plain pasta or rice. They need flavorings to make them delicious. Add salsa, lime juice, cilantro and cheese at serving time and they're delicious.

The prefix "re-" in "refried" provides emphasis. In the original Spanish, it means something closer to "well-fried" than "fried again."
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Old 07-05-2018, 04:38 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I think of refried beans as a neutral base, like plain pasta or rice. They need flavorings to make them delicious. Add salsa, lime juice, cilantro and cheese at serving time and they're delicious.

The prefix "re-" in "refried" provides emphasis. In the original Spanish, it means something closer to "well-fried" than "fried again."
That’s as good an analogy as I’ve ever come across, GG. Thanks. The difference between pasta and refried beans though, is that the beans are often served sans flavoring as a side dish, or stuffed, again without flavoring, into a tortilla (okay, maybe some cheese), think fast food. I don’t think I’ve ever seen pasta served unflavored as a side, even if the flavoring is a bit of olive oil, grated cheese and some pepper. And at least pasta is usually al dente, not pasty like refried beans.

Thanks for the clarification of “refried,” too. Makes sense!
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Old 07-05-2018, 05:32 PM   #4
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Well, I can't help what other people do I think plain refried beans are bland and boring so I flavor them up.

I used to make a dip frequently with half refried beans and half salsa - healthy and delicious! There was a Tex-Mex restaurant here years ago that served their refries with cheese on top; eventually I started adding the lime juice - delicious! Then I came across a recipe for Zesty Refried Beans with salsa, lime juice and cilantro - also delicious!

That's why I think of them as a neutral base. Just because they're not usually served with flavorings doesn't mean I have to be constrained by that. And I know pasta and beans are generally treated differently. So what? The analogy is still useful.
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Old 07-05-2018, 05:33 PM   #5
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I make cheater refried beans.

One (or two) cans pinto beans, rinse drain
onion, chopped soften in butter, bacon grease is better, don't usually have
1 garlic pod, cook when onion looks almost soft
dry toast cumin and grind, I love cumin, so probably 1 muscular Tbsp
1 tsp dried marjoram or Mexican oregano. Marjoram is milder
1 scant tsp chili powder or less, just enough to know it's there


Add beans to onion, stir together and heat med/ med low. When warm start mashing with a hand potato masher. I like some texture to remain, not altogether smooth, also not too chunky. ( I know, picky).

As beans heat, you may need to add a few Tbs water so they aren't too dry. Also, on taste test, you may want to add a few spoons favorite salsa.

Serve with snipped green onion, cilantro, fine diced jalapeno and shredded cheese. A squirt of lime juice sounds delicious. Besides serving as a side dish, spoon into burritos or tacos before adding other ingredients, makes a great anchor to hold layers together.

Dx prefers black beans, whole, not mashed. Less cumin, less chili powder and more salsa. Mostly hers are black beans with salsa, so one can only hope there is onion in the salsa.
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Old 07-05-2018, 05:38 PM   #6
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Btw, the reason refried beans are ubiquitous in Mexican cuisine is because beans are common and, as with most societies throughout history, they use and reuse the food they have until it's gone. It takes a lot of effort and energy to plant, grow, harvest, process and cook food. Waste not, want not.
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Old 07-05-2018, 06:12 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GotGarlic View Post
I think of refried beans as a neutral base, like plain pasta or rice. They need flavorings to make them delicious. Add salsa, lime juice, cilantro and cheese at serving time and they're delicious.

The prefix "re-" in "refried" provides emphasis. In the original Spanish, it means something closer to "well-fried" than "fried again."

Well stated..

I also add bacon fat, green chili's, seasonings, etc. to the skillet as part of the 're-frying' process..



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Old 07-05-2018, 06:59 PM   #8
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You are all educating me on Mexican - (with special thanks to GG explanations) I'm slowly learning what they all are. hopefully I'll remember a little more tonight?

So far I've learned that Taco, Fajita, and even Cajun (to a certain extent) seasonings are all pretty much the same - just put on different ways in different dishes.

Burritos, taqu??? (the little guys) - still elude me other than being wrapped up.

I google them constantly for the differences. Then I see a recipe and have no idea which style it is... it just won't sink in.
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Old 07-05-2018, 08:31 PM   #9
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I love refried beans and almost always have them with just about any Mexican inspired dish I make. I've made them from dried pintos or black beans, canned whole, and canned ready-made, but always doctor them up with many of the seasonings/veggies you guys mentioned.

Usually everything ends up kind crowded together on my plate when I have Mexican food, and IMO refried beans help make a perfect bite when it's scooped up with a little seasoned rice, and cheesy enchilada.

Dragn, a burrito is basically anything wrapped in a flour tortilla. The insides are only limited to what one likes, and has on hand. As GG said, which makes a lot of sense to me, they were intended to use up whatever was left in the big pots of fixin's. I've also read that they were handy to carry, so they were popular with those who walked to work or rode horseback.

And "taqu"....? You might mean taquitos, those are corn tortillas and seasoned meat, rolled up and fried. Delicious, especially dipped in salsa.

Living in the southwest, Mexican inspired food is a staple! lol
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Old 07-05-2018, 08:41 PM   #10
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A burrito is basically anything wrapped in a flour tortilla.
Doesn’t it have to be even vaguely Mexican to be considered a burrito? I’d have to call Thai curried chicken with lemon grass and basil wrapped in a tortilla a “wrap,” even though that’s a fairly new term.
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