Tuesday, May 4, 2010

So-Easy "Un"Refried Beans in the Crock Pot

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!
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.
Up Next:
The Quiet Man's First Ever Guest Post for a Mother's Day Menu


Adrienne said...

Wow, that IS easy! You make everything look easy though. So, why are they called reFRIED? I mean, these are fat free for crying out loud.

Prudy said...

I hear you! You can fry them up in a little oil, and they are good, but for pete's sake, why mess with a good thing??

gigi said...

I learned this from you last year and I will be ever so thankful!

Leslie said...

Dear Prudence,
I am looking so forward to The Quiet Man's post.
He can do anything.....write your post, teach your class, and take care of the children whenever you're touring around the world on cooking contests.
I can't wait to read what he has to say. I hope he knows he has an audience of sisters-in-law waiting for him.
I read your comment on Catte's blog, too and wanted to tell you I would love a cast iron skillet.
I should have bought one twenty years ago, but never have. That was very thoughtful of you to save it for me. Thank you. It' so nice of you to share all your gifts and winnings with us.
My doctor said not only should I be cooking on a cast iron skillet but I should consider eating them as well.
(The doctor and nurses are so funny with me, and raised their hands and cheered for me that I had moved up to a 4!)
Anyway, thank you Prudy, and know that I can't wait to read tomorrow's post.
Also, these beans are delicious, and I drool everytime you post pictures and recipes of your Mexican Food. Delicioso.
My man, El Capitano just came in singing and wishing everyone a Happy Cinco de Mayo.
Then he started doing the Mexican Hat Dance.
All right, Prudy, here's to Mexican Food.....my Favorite favorite.

Leslie said...

Uhhhhhh, sorry about that, penpal.
That was a really long comment.

Prudy said...

I've picked up the phone to call you exactly seven times in the last couple of days, but each time, I hang up again since I know that a five minute phone call won't cut it. It just won't. I have so much to tell you, so many books we've discussed that I've finished-Falling Apart in One Piece, Just let me lie down, Stumbling on Happiness, The Art of Choosing. Mom just called and I got sidetracked in my writing. Anyway, I'll try to call you tonight maybe. I've got finals this week, state testing for the kids, then I'm going to MKs next week to babysit all week, plus Say's birthday. I need to learn shorthand, for pete's sake. I've got your iron pan; it's all yours. West is belly aching for breakfast. What's the point of this cooking blog if I can't even get my own children fed breakfast? Sheesh!

The JR said...

I like easy and versatile recipes.

Leslie said...

I am laughing at how busy you are.
Last week was my unbelievably busy week, and next week will be the same.
That is so nice of you to help Mary. I wish I could help, too.
I have a funny story for you: Two days ago someone called from the
Culinary Institute and I had to sign up for some things. Anyway, the woman on the phone thought my name was Westley! She apologized for it so many times, and I laughed and told her it didn't bother me a bit and that I actually have a nephew named after me.
She laughed at the whole story, but please don't tell West. I don't want him to mind that I claim his as my namesake.

Kerrie said...

Purdy, I do something very similar and love it. I cut out the hand mashing of the beans and use a slotted spoon to transfer them into the kitchen aid mixing bowl with the paddle attachment and blend on low. They are perfect every time!

Prudy said...

Ooh, Kerrie, what great advice! Thanks, I'm going to try it.

Catherine said...

I love these unrefried beans. They are so delicious. Thankyou for sharing Prudy. And I'm looking forward to the quiet man's quiet post. =D

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Me said...

Is there a printer friendly button? I would love to just print & take the paper instead of the computer (if avail) w/me to the kitchen, thanks! I could be totally missing it, if so, just direct me in the right direction please, lol.

Tobi@SimplyJesus said...

Prudy, I just found your blog and I am so excited! I have been putting off making beans because it is soooo much work! Now I will be making them tomorrow. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to explore more of your blog. Feel free to pop on over and check out my blog and website. Thanks again for the awesome recipe. :) Tobi

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