I have often wondered why refried beans were called refried beans. I guess it is because the dried beans are cooked once to reconstitute them and then cooked a second time, after mashing them, by frying them in lard. It is the frying them in the lard that makes them nice and creamy and full of flavour and good. You don't need to use the lard but it is best if you use some kind of fat. I don't often have lard on hand so I normally use bacon grease and since I am cooking the bacon for the grease anyways I usually throw the the bacon in as well. The source of fat can also be oil for a lighter and healthier or vegetarian version.
Refried beans are normally made with pinto beans but you can use any kind of beans that you want. I often enjoy using black beans instead of pinto beans. Simmering the dried beans to reconstitute them takes a while so I usually use caned beans, which I always have on hand, and that saves a lot of time.
Other than the beans and the fat, refried beans can be as simple or as complex as you like. You could easily leave them there or you can add in extras. For me, it depends on what I am using them for. If I am going to use the refried beans as a side dish or as a filling for burritos I might keep them simple and omit the onions and garlic. If what I am serving them with is already spicy then I might leave out the ground up chilies and cumin. If I am using the refried beans as a dip I would probably use everything in the recipe below and I might even add some tomato and jalapenos. I would also add some water to thin the refried beans out so that they would not break the tortillas chips when scooping. I would also garnish a refried bean dip with some shredded cheese and green onions or maybe some sour cream and cilantro. Refried beans are so versatile!
Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)(2 as a dip or 4+ as a filling or side)
2 tablespoons lard (or bacon grease or oil etc.)
1 small onion (chopped, optional)
1 clove garlic (chopped, optional)
1 (19 ounce) can pinto beans (drained and rinsed, or black beans, etc.)
1 tablespoon chili powder (optional)
1 teaspoon cumin (toasted and ground, optional)
* water (optional)
1. Heat the lard in a pan.
2. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add the beans, chili powder and cumin and cook until warm.
5. Mash the beans until you get them to the consistency that you want. (If the beans are too thick you can add water to thin them out.)
Cilantro and Lime Refried Beans
Korean Style Refried Beans
Jalapeno Spiced Black Beans
Black Bean Guacamole
Recipes that use refried beans:
7 Layer Dip
Jalapeno Cornbread Grilled Cheese with Chipotle Caramelized Onions, Refried Black Beans and Guacamole
Hot Cheesy Bean Dip
Seven Layer Dip Cornmeal Pancakes
Butternut Squash and Chorizo Tostadas
Chorizo Scrambled Eggs Breakfast Tacos
Taco Quesadilla Pizzas
Chipotle Tuna 7 Layer Dip