Perfect Refried Beans

 [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

  • YIELD:Makes about 4 cups
  • ACTIVE TIME:20 minutes
  • TOTAL TIME:2 hours 20 minutes
  • RATED:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 pound dried pinto or black beans
  • Water
  • 2 sprigs fresh epazote (see note above) or oregano
  • 1 medium white onion, 1/2 minced (about 1/2 cup), 1/2 left whole
  • 2 medium cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons lard, bacon drippings, vegetable oil, or butter

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a large pot, cover the beans with cold water by at least 2 inches. Add herb sprigs, the whole onion half, and garlic cloves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until beans are very tender, about 1 to 2 hours. Season with salt. Drain beans, reserving bean-cooking liquid. You should have about 3 cups of cooked beans; if you have more, measure out 3 cups of beans and reserve the rest for another use. Discard herb sprigs, onion, and garlic.
  2. In a large skillet, heat lard, bacon drippings, or oil until shimmering, or butter until foaming, over medium-high heat. Add minced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent and lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Stir in beans and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of reserved bean-cooking liquid. Using bean masher, potato masher, or back of a wooden spoon, smash the beans to form a chunky purée; alternatively, use a stick blender to make a smoother purée. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring, until desired consistency is reached; if refried beans are too dry, add more bean-cooking liquid, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed. Season with salt and serve.
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