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.

The Verdict:

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.


Annette said...

That's how I make my beans also, except I leave out the bacon. They still taste great, but the bacon sounds even better. Your pictures are making me hungry!

Cathy said...

This looks like the perfect Mexican side dish! I am sure that I'd make this exactly the way you did, Nancy, as I am unlikely to plan ahead, but can generally find a can of beans and 30 minutes. Glad you found a way to work in the lardons - nice touch! I'll definitely give this a try next time Mexican is on the menu!

Matt said...

Despite the fact that I was raised in a home in which my Mexican father cooked many dishes that included refried beans, I also have always left them on my plate in restaurants. I like them, but I'd rather fill up on other things.

The Benton bacon sounds interesting. I went to their website and saw that they ship their products. Are their hams as good as their bacon?

Nancy/n.o.e said...

Matt, I've never tried anything Benton except their bacon, which I buy at a specialty shop nearby. I've seen it on the website and it sounds really good, though.