First, to clear things up: ‘refried’ beans are not fried twice.
The ‘refritos’ of Frijoles Refritos more properly translates from the Spanish as ‘well-fried’. The beans are cooked first, then fried with seasonings to make a flavorful bean mash.
Slow Cooker Refried Beans meld the two steps together, creating a large batch of beans without additional oil.
Pinto beans are ideal in this recipe because their smooth texture allows you to mash them easily, and their pleasant mild flavor adapts to many uses.
Keep a batch on hand in the fridge and you have an instant filling for burritos, or a simple meal with rice and corn.
For a potluck, try mixing 4 cups / 1 liter of the beans with 1 cup / 250 ml salsa and 2 cups / 500 ml cheese sauce for an easy hot dip. Cover a baking dish with tinfoil and bake at 400 degrees F / 206 degrees C until bubbly (about 30 minutes).
Before I cook any beans in the slow cooker, I always boil them for 10 minutes on the stovetop. While this is not absolutely necessary for pinto beans, it is a precaution that I take when cooking slow-cooking all beans.
Boiling for 10 minutes neutralizes the toxin phytohaemagglutinin which is present in many varieties of beans. This toxin can cause severe gastrointestinal problems at fairly low doses. It is particularly a problem with kidney beans, so boiling kidney beans is absolutely essential. (In fact, I wouldn’t recommend using a slow cooker at all for kidney beans.)
For the beans in this recipe, boiling them for 10 minutes with a good dose of fresh garlic infuses them with extra flavor and gives them a head start in the slow cooker.
If you can’t find pinto beans for your Slow Cooker Refried Beans, try substituting the east-coast heirloom Jacob’s Cattle Beans.
- 2-1/2 cups / 625 ml uncooked pinto beans
- 4-5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup / 250 ml)
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml cumin
- 2 teaspoons / 10 ml chili powder optional
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon / 5 ml salt
- 1/2 teaspoon / 2.5 ml ground pepper
- 4 cups / 1 liter vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon / 15 ml lime juice
Place beans and garlic in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring beans to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-high and boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Drain beans and place in 4-qt / 4 liter slow cooker. Add onion, cumin, chili powder (if using), oregano, salt, pepper and vegetable stock. Stir to combine.
Place lid on slow cooker and turn to high. Cook on high for one hour, then reduce heat to low and cook for 3-4 hours. (Or start on slow and cook for 5-6 hours.) To test if beans are cooked, mush one bean with the back of a spoon. It should mash easily and the center should be smooth without any dry bits. The cooking time can vary depending on your model of slow cooker and the age of the beans. Older beans generally take longer to cook.
When beans are cooked, mash with a potato masher until the beans have a texture you like. If you prefer a very smooth mash, you can whizz them in the food processor or blend them with an immersion blender.)
Stir lime juice into mashed beans. Serve, use in a recipe, or store in fridge for up to 4 days.
Photo: Drywontonmee at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
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