I wish everything in life were as easy as these "un"refried beans. (If any of my students are reading this, your final tomorrow night will not be-so be forewarned and study hard.) They are so simple, that I stumbled upon them quite by accident. I'd spent the last decade convinced that to make good Mexican style beans, I had to soak, boil, mash, fry. There was so much labor involved, I might as well have grown the beans myself and picked them on a sweltering hot day, dressed in a pioneer gown with a screaming baby pinned to my back. Sisters, it wouldn't have made things much harder. One night, feeling rebellious, I put the dried pintos into the crockpot, turned them on low and went to bed (in a pioneer nightgown, I bet; they don't call me Prudy for nothin'). I didn't know what would happen, but since beans don't cost much more than-well, beans-I thought I could afford to chance it. But nothing happened, except exactly what I'd hoped would happen. The beans retained their shape, but they were soft, cooked, and creamy, willing to surrender to the slightest mashing of the fork. I hadn't added anything for flavor-no onion, garlic, hot pepper, not even a sprinkle of salt. A blank canvas of legumes lay before me. I sauteed some aromatics and sprinkled in some chili powder. But then the next time, I poured in some tomatilla salsa and a can of green chilies. Once in desperation, I dumped in I mixed in some packets of taco sauce, leftover from midnight quesadilla run at Del Taco. Sometimes I'd mash them to creamy; other times I'd leave most of the beans whole. Each time they came out stupendous, or estupendo (which is much more fun to say), if you will. Estupendo! I'm giving you the recipe, but think of it as an outline. You can't fail. No matter what you will succeeed. (Now if only I could say the same about my students on tomorrow night's final.) Hay caramba! And Happy Cinco De Mayo!
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
So Easy "Un" Refried Beans in the Crock Pot
Estimated Cost: about $1.00 for 6-8 servings
2 cups dried pinto beans-no need to presoak
8 cups water
start with 1/4 teaspoon salt (or use granulated chicken bouillion)
1/2 -3/4 cup flavorful liquid-taco sauce, red or green salsa, enchilada sauce, tomato sauce (my favorite is El Pato spicy tomato sauce), or even a 14 ounce can of undrained Mexican style petite diced tomatoes
Optional Add ins: sauteed garlic-onions-jalapenos, bacon grease, chopped cooked bacon, roasted red peppers, diced green chilies, shredded cheddar cheese, chopped cilantro
Put beans and water in the crock pot. Cover and cook on low overnight, or about 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. (Every crock pot is different, so give yourself plenty of time.) When the beans are very soft, remove all of the liquid that you can with a small ladle or measuring cup. You don't need to strain the beans. Just get out as much of the cooking water as possible. Mash the beans with a potato masher, getting them as creamy as you like, or leave them whole, if that floats your boat. Add salt and your flavorful liquid. Taste and adjust seasonings.
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