The original refried bean recipe my great-grandma Molly used to prepare. She always used pink beans, which I prefer, too but since they are more difficult to find nowadays, substitute pinto or black beans. I dictated this recipe from my mother and she said her grandmother used manteca (lard) available from the butcher, or my version is to fry up a few slices of bacon and reserve the drippings. If you're looking for a low fat recipe, this isn't it. (I've posted a vegetarian version of these beans: Bisabuelita's Crock Pot Refried Beans (Vegetarian))
- In large pot soak the beans for at least 4 hours. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to medium and cook until soft.
- If necessary, add more water as needed so that the beans do not dry out while cooking. Once beans are cooked, drain beans but *RESERVE* liquid.
- Fry up the bacon slices in large cast iron skillet and set aside to drain on paper towel. Reserve drippings.
- Meanwhile, mince the onion and garlic.
- *Heat a cast iron skillet on medium and saute the onion and garlic in the bacon drippings or solid lard until soft.
- With slotted spoon, transfer the cooked beans to the skillet. Lower temperature to low-medium. Add about a cup of the bean liquid and mix in the beans with the onion and garlic. Begin to mash the beans with a potato masher, adding more bean liquid as necessary to facilitate. Great grandma prepared these beans soupy with about 3/4 of the beans mashed, the remaining left whole. That is how great-grandma cooked them and that is how I like them. Keep mashing beans and adding liquid until soupy and not dry. Lower heat to simmer. Do not allow beans to dry out, adding more bean liquid if needed.
- Crumble the bacon and stir into the beans. Season with salt. Taste and reseason with more salt if necessary. Beans seems to require a good amount of salt to bring out their flavor.
- *NOTE: If you choose to use a cast iron skillet be warned that the iron content will turn lighter colored beans an unattractive pinkish-grey color. This will not affect the taste at all other than adding a bit of extra iron to your diet. If preferred, cook beans in a non-reactive pot.
- Save the bean liquid to rehydrate and reheat any leftovers, but *DO NOT* use plain water to reheat the beans.