Friday, October 10, 2008
Hand-mashed Mexican pintos
We have a lovely stash of tamales in the freezer, and I dole them out sparingly. The last time tamales were on the menu, I wanted an accompaniment, and first thought of a black bean salad. The pantry held no cans of black beans, unfortunately, but I did find a nice can of organic pinto beans. So I decided to devise a Mexican bean dish.
I'll have to admit that ordinarily I wouldn't cross the street for a refried bean. When I'm served refried beans in a Mexican restaurant, I leave them on the plate. They're just not that appetizing to me. Well, I will tolerate them in a dip or casserole, but that's about it. But it somehow seemed like a good idea to try my hand at making some.
Here's my very own version:
Nancy's Refried Beans:
- Drain 1 can of pinto beans.
- Alternatively, you could cook your own starting with 1 1/2 - 2 cups of dried beans. (That is, if you decide to make this dish more than 30 minutes before dinner time!) Reserve some of the cooking liquid if you get the chance.
- Brown 4 or 5 lardons* of Benton bacon (you knew I'd slide these in here, right?) or 1 slice of regular bacon, cut into pieces. Reserve the bacon, and wipe out the pan.
*(fancy word for cut up pieces of thick bacon. We happen to be mildly obsessed with lardons around here)
- Add a bit of olive oil to the same pan, and saute 1/2 c chopped onion until it begins to turn golden, about 7 minutes. Add 1 clove of garlic, chopped, and cook for another minute or so.
- Add the beans to the pan and mash lightly with a potato masher. Add water (or cooking liquid if you have any) as necessary to obtain desired consistency.
- Stir the lardons or bacon pieces into the beans.
- Heat thoroughly on the stove top, adding water as necessary.
- Once the beans are served, top them with a touch of shredded pepper jack cheese, chopped raw onion, and cilantro, if desired.
These beans taste fantastic and were a perfect complement to the tamales. (I also served chips with salsa and guacamole.)
By cooking the fat out of the bacon and discarding it, these beans are much healthier than the standard loaded-with-lard refried beans. The cheese added creaminess and the onions added fresh flavor and a crunchy texture to the dish.