I recently purchased a bag of black beans. I saw them, I think I was feeling healthy at the time, so I bought them…and then they sat in the cupboard for a while because I really had no idea what to do with them. Put them in a soup? A stew? Then it came to me – refried beans! No worry that actual refried beans are made from kidney beans or something, I was going to make do with black beans (aren’t all beans the same anyway?!).
Refried beans seem to be one of those foods that people really love or really don’t care much for. Me, I’m in the latter, I could give or take them. I wont go out of my way to eat them, use them or even think about them. I find them over-processed pinky-liver coloured rubbish that add very little besides bulk to my flavoursome meal. But these beans actually turned out pretty tasty – much tastier than I thought they would.
My first “problem” was how to cook them. I was sure that the beans needed soaking of some description before I could cook them. Strangely, black beans seem to be a food that people argue over. Soaking vs non soaking, boiling vs slow simmer, cook for 4 hours, soak for 5, cook for 1. BAH! So I decided to cook them for about 1 hour, turn off the heat and let them sit. They sat in their own filthy black water (ha!) for a few hours, then I drained the black water and re-cooked them til they were relatively soft. I didn’t want them to be mush, so I think they cooked for an hour or two. The second time I made them, I cooked the beans then left them overnight to soak. I didn’t seem to make a whole lot of difference.
After the beans were cooked, i drained the water (but kept it) and then it was mashing time. I don’t have a potato masher here so I made do with my pestle and smooshed the beans til they were roughly mashed. I used some of the water I had drained just to make it a little easier. I have read stories of people using their food processor, but I didnt particularly want a smooth pastey mix. Its up to you how smooth or rough you want them.
So once the mashing is done, its time to fry those babies. First you need to get a mix of onion and garlic. I minced 3 cloves of garlic and 1 medium onion in the food processor then fried that in some olive oil. You can add some dried cumin and coriander, plus chilli too at this stage. Then I added the beans. The beans will probably be a bit dry, so add some of the water you have kept and stir the beans around, cooking them for a while. Add any seasoning you think – refried beans are typically pretty flavourless so adding a little chicken stock seasoning, salt, pepper, herbs and spices can only do wonders!
So cook them for a bit, about 5-10 minutes, make the flavour delicious and then serve! I made a pretty tasty dip for a friends birthday with the beans – I mixed a cup of beans with a 1/3 cup sour cream then topped it with finely diced coriander, shallots and tomato…oh and a sprinkle of hot chilli sauce like tabasco!